MOBILE, AL– Five players scored in double-figures as the Arkansas State women’s basketball team defeated South Alabama 71-58 Wednesday afternoon in Sun Belt Conference game at the Mitchell Center.
Arkansas State trailed by eight with 13 minutes to go in the game, but outscored the Jaguars 37-18 the rest of the way to capture the win. Aundrea Gamble scored a game-high 20 points, while Jane Morrill scored all 15 points of her points in the second half. Hanna Qedan and Jalen O’Bannon added 12 points each, while Brittney Gill also had a career-high with 12 points and six steals. O’Bannon also grabbed 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double for the second straight game.
The win moves A-State to 16-8 overall on the season and 10-2 in Sun Belt Conference, while South Alabama fell to 7-14 on the year and 5-6 in league play.
"I think this game was almost a mirror image of what happened in Jonesboro in you have to give a ton of credit to South Alabama for that," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "Their game plan for a second straight game was to take away penetration and getting the ball inside, but I thought we did a better of job getting the ball inside in the second half and I think we were able to wear them down a little bit."
The Jaguars went on a 16-4 run to start the second half and led 42-34 with 13:17 to go in the game. A-State struggled to knock shots in the first seven minutes of the second half and South Alabama took advantage of open looks from the 3-point line to build its biggest lead of the night.
However the Red Wolves were not deterred and quickly turned momentum in their favor thanks to a solid defensive effort that was led by Gill. The sophomore from Pine Bluff, Ark., collected a career-high six steals and made an impact by getting easy baskets in transition in throughout the game.
Gamble sparked a 12-3 run that gave A-State lead back when she knocked down a 15-foot jumper in the lane and Gill continued the momentum with another jumper off a Jaguars’ turnover to pull A-State within 42-40. The Red Wolves took the lead for good when Qedan was fouled on a 3-point attempt and the nation’s sixth best free throw shooter was perfect from the foul line put A-State up 43-42. Morrill knocked a jumper on A-State’s next possession down the floor to go up three and swing all the momentum to the Arkansas State side.
The surge continued as the Red Wolves continued to outscore the Jaguars 37-13 until the game’s final minutes. Morrill was spectacular in the second half going 4-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. O’Bannon was also big on the boards, collecting seven of her 10 rebounds in the final 20 minutes. It was the fifth time this season that O’Bannon has had a double-double, the most since in single season since Sherina Scott had 14 in 2009-10.
"I thought we did a good job of getting to the foul line in the second half after not shooting one attempt in the first half," Boyer said. "I think a lot of that was us working the ball inside more and just putting pressure on them a little bit."
A-State held a 27-25 advantage going into the halftime break, but struggled to find a shooting rhythm throughout the half. Arkansas State started the game just 1-of-11 from the field, but Gamble caught fire and scored three straight baskets that were bookended by Qedan 3-pointers to give A-State a 12-10 lead with 11:27 to go in the first half.
A-State took its largest lead of the half at 18-10 with 8:16 to go in the period thanks to an 11-2 run, but South Alabama answered with a 13-2 run of its own to take a 23-18 edge with 2:50 to play in the half.
Gamble and Qedan combined to go on a 7-0 run that was highlighted by a 3-pointer from Qedan to give the Red Wolves the lead before heading into the halftime break.
A-State shot 34.3 percent (23-67) from the field for the game, and went 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the foul line in the second half. Qedan went 3-of-7 from the beyond and as team the Red Wolves were 6-of-16 on 3-point attempts.
Arkansas State also dominated on the glass, outrebounding the Jaguars 40-32, including a 17-4 edge on the offensive end. The Red Wolves also forced 26 turnovers, nine of which were steals and scored 34 points of the turnovers.
Arkansas State will return to the road for a matchup with Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.