JONESBORO, Ark. (11/21/17) – Led by four players scoring in double figures and 51 points from its bench, including a season-high 23 from sophomore guard Jada Ford, the Arkansas State women’s basketball team collected an 84-73 victory over UT Martin in its home opener Tuesday night at First National Bank Arena.
A-State evened its record to 2-2 on the young season, while UT Martin saw its record move to 1-3. The Red Wolves improved their all-time record in home openers to 39-6, including a 16-3 mark under head coach Brian Boyer.
Joining Ford with season-high scoring totals for A-State were junior guard Akasha Westbrook and sophomore guard Payton Tennison with 18 and 11 points, respectively. Freshman forward Peyton Martin added 11 points for the Red Wolves as well, helping A-State finish with its most points in a game since the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Red Wolves finished with a season-high shooting percentage (50 percent) from the floor, including an 8-of-20 performance from three-point range, and recorded the fourth best free throw percentage (.947) in school history by making 18-of-19 attempts at the charity stripe.
While the Skyhawks made 47.5 percent of their field goals, A-State held a 33-29 advantage on the boards and finished with three more assists and two more blocks.
How It Happened (First Half):
The first half featured six ties and nine lead changes as UT Martin took a 38-37 advantage into the break. Although the Red Wolves led 14-13 at the end of the first period, the Skyhawks scored 14 of the first 19 points in the second period to build their biggest lead of the night at 27-19 with 5:53 left before halftime.
A-State responded with a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to tie the game 29-29 and eventually reclaimed the advantage, 37-36, on a three by Ford at the 1:12 mark. A jumper by Zaire Hicks with 49 seconds left put the Skyhawks up by one at halftime, which was also the last time they would lead.
How It Happed (Second Half):
A three by Tennison just 10 seconds into the second half marked the games 10th and final lead change as the Red Wolves went on top 40-38. A-State’s third-period lead would reach as much as 11 points, 57-46 at the 3:44 mark, and it would take a 61-53 lead into the final period.
The Skyhawks got as close as six points, 61-55, with almost nine minutes left in the game, but couldn’t get any closer. A-State held a 77-70 advantage with 2:53 remaining before going on a 7-0 run to secure the victory.
Arkansas State snapped a two-game skid against UT Martin, running its all-time record versus the Skyhawks to 5-7 . . . The Red Wolves now hold a 4-2 advantage in the series in games played in Jonesboro.
The Red Wolves improved their all-time record in home openers to 39-6, including a 16-3 mark under head coach Brian Boyer.
A-State got 51 points from its bench, which was the highest scoring output by the Red Wolves’ reserves in a game this season.
Arkansas State posted season highs in six statistical categories, including points (84), field goals made (29), field goal percentage (.500), free throws made (18), free throw percentage (.947) and assists (16).
A-State’s .947 field goal percentage tied the fourth highest in school history.
A-State’s 84 points were its most scored in a game since posting 89 against Troy in the 2016 Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Arkansas State shot at least 50 percent from the floor for the first time since Feb. 25, 2016, versus Texas State (53.6 percent)
The Red Wolves had a season-high four players score in double figures. The last time they had four players reach double digits was Feb. 4, 2017 vs. Appalachian State.
Jada Ford scored in double digits for the second time this season with a season-high 23 points, which are also the most by an A-State player this year.
Akasha Westbrook has now scored at least 10 points in every game this year, including a season-high 18 tonight.
Peyton Martin finished the game with 11 points, marking the second time this season she has reached double figures.
Payton Tennison scored a season-high 11 points, reaching double figures for the first time this year.
Lauren Bradshaw finished the game with three blocks, leaving her six shy of breaking the school record. She has 127 career blocked shots, the second most in school history.
Quoting Coach Boyer:
“This is a really good win for our team. This is a series that we have had for several years and it is something I want to continue because year in and year out they are a postseason team. This was a good early test because this a team that could compete at the top of the Sun Belt and they obviously showed that in the first half in how well they played.”
“I am proud of our team and outside of the Indiana game, one of the keys we have had this season is taking care of the basketball and we had a few turnovers early against their press, but once we got that under control we did a really good of not turning the ball over. Defensively, Westbrook did a great job of chasing their best shooter and holding to just 1-of-8 from ‘3’ and really didn’t get her an open look much of the night.”
“We’ve got two wins on the year and in both of those wins Jada Ford has had a big night offensively. We have the ability to play good but at times we struggle to score but when she is shooting the ball well she makes us a much better team.”
A-State takes to the road for a non-conference matchup with Pittsburgh Saturday, November 25 at 5 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center.