SECOND-HALF RUN BY ARKANSAS STATE THE DIFFERENCE AS JAGS FALL TO RED WOLVES
January 13, 2014By Jernard Griggs of Waco Lady Panthers
The University of South Alabama women's basketball team led by eight early in the second half, but a big run by Arkansas State was the difference as the Red Wolves defeat the Jaguars 73-60 Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
"I thought the first half was really good basketball for us," South Alabama head coach Terry Fowler said. "It was the type of basketball that we want to play. We just weren't able to sustain it. It started on the defensive end of the floor. We were playing great in the first half. In the second half, Arkansas State just got things going. I think a key moment was when Ronneka (Robertson) got her third foul. That put us at a disadvantage both defensively and offensively. They started to really attack us inside and they were able to take advantage of some things.
"If we come with energy and have the activity and awareness at the defensive end of the floor that we need to have, we can do some good things. We're going to take this as a learning opportunity. We just have to move forward and put 40 minutes together. I thought we put together about 20-25 minutes today. We just got to find a way to put another 10-15 minutes with that."
USA (4-10, 2-2 SBC) will now return home to take on Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Mitchell Center. Arkansas State remains perfect in league play and improves to 10-6 overall and 4-0 in the conference.
Meghan Dunn and Colby Davis just missed tying their career highs as they finished with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Dunn was 6-of-10 from the field, including 3-of-3 at the three-point line, while also hitting all three of her free-throw attempts. Davis ended the night with 15 points and did most of her damage at the foul line as she went 8-for-10 at the charity stripe.
"Colby played well tonight," Fowler said. "As a freshman on the road against the best team in the league, she just put her head down and was really aggressive. She was able to get to the line and knocked down her free throws. I thought Meghan Dunn really played like a senior. She was fighting to the end and really led our ball club."
Ronneka Robertson also chipped in with eight points, but the Sun Belt's second-leading rebounder was held without a rebound in the game. Robertson entered the contest averaging 9.1 boards per outing.
After shooting 47.8 percent in the first half, the Arkansas State defense held South Alabama to just 7-of-24 shooting in the final period for 29.2 percent. The Red Wolves connected on 15 of their 29 attempts in the second half for 51.7 percent and shot 42.9 percent for the game.
Despite the cold second-half shooting, South Alabama did manage to shot 90 percent at the free-throw line, connecting on 18 of its 20 opportunities.
ASU placed four players in double figures in the win led by Hanna Qedan's 18. Qedan was 7-of-11 from the field and 4-of-7 from the arc. Jasmine Hunt added a career-best 17 points off the bench on 7-of-10 shooting. Aundrea Gamble had 15 and Jalen O'Bannon ended the night with 11.
South Alabama used the three-point play in the first few minutes of the contest to take the early lead (9-2). Dunn and Rachel Cumbo each drained a trey and Robertson converted the conventional three-point play at the 16:06 mark to give USA the seven-point advantage.
The Red Wolves struggled offensively in the first four minutes, hitting just one of their first seven shots. ASU's first points didn't come until the 16:21 mark on a layup from Brittney Gill. Jane Morill – a first-team all-conference selection and the Red Wolves' second-leading scorer – picked up two fouls in the first four minutes and had to sit the rest of the first half.
Led by Qedan, Arkansas State answered back and rattled off a 13-3 run over a seven-minute stretch. Qedan had seven-points during the scoring run for ASU. Jasmine Hunt later gave the Red Wolves their first lead (15-12) after back-to-back buckets, the second coming with just over nine minutes remaining.
South Alabama didn't help itself during the ASU run as the Jags committed six of its 10 first-half turnovers over that time.
Dunn – who had 13 points during the first 20-minutes of play – put the Jaguars back out in front when the senior knocked down her second trey of the half from the left corner at the 8:10 mark.
With USA holding a 23-21 advantage with less than five minutes remaining before the half, the Jaguars turned to their defense to spark the offense. Davis began a 9-0 run for South Alabama when the freshman guard stole the ball and went the length of the court for a layup. Taylor Jenkins then followed with a steal of her own and drained a 15-foot jumper at the elbow. On ASU's next possession, Breanna Hall came up with a steal of her own that led to a three by Davis at the 3:17 mark. Davis gave USA it's largest lead at 32-21 with a pair of free throws with two minutes, 50 seconds remaining.
The Red Wolves were able to narrow the gap to five 34-29) just before the intermission as Aundrea Gamble and Qedan each knocked down a three-pointer of their own. That's where the two clubs would head into the locker room.
South Alabama looked as if it were going to keep the momentum as Cumbo came out and drained a trey on USA's first possession of the second half.
However, over the next seven-and-a-half minutes the Red Wolves would answer back with a 23-4 run and take control of the game. O'Bannon sparked the first part of the ASU run with an offensive put back and a pair of free throws. She later gave Arkansas State its first lead since the opening half as she followed a Qedan three with one of her own from the top of the key at the 15:40 mark to give the home team a 43-41 advantage.
South Alabama didn't help itself during the Red Wolves' scoring spurt as it suffered a five minute stretch in which it did not score a point. USA missed four shots and turned the ball over five times and ASU took advantage, reeling off 15 unanswered points and extending its lead out to 52-41.
Davis finally ended the offensive drought for the Jaguars with a pair of free throws at the 11:47 mark, but USA would get no closer the rest of the way as Arkansas State went on to take the 13-point victory.