JONESBORO, Ark. (3/2/19) – The Arkansas State women's basketball team collected an 86-75 win Saturday over Georgia Southern in its regular-season home finale at First National Bank Arena, securing a spot in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The Red Wolves improved to 9-5 at home this season, moving its overall record to 11-16 and league mark to 6-10. They could still host a Sun Belt Conference Tournament first-round game if they sweep both their games next week in Louisiana and if South Alabama drops its last two games of the regular season. Georgia Southern now holds a 7-21 overall record, while standing 2-15 in conference action.
Arkansas State was led by three players scoring in double figures, including freshman guard Jireh Washington with a career-high 24 points. Sophomore forward Peyton Martin picked up her fourth double-double of the season with a career-high 13 rebounds and 20 points. Junior guard Payton Tennison added 14 points for the Red Wolves.
Not only did A-State post its fourth most points in a game this year, it also tied its second highest field goal percentage (.484) and made 30 field goals to tie its second most on the season. The Red Wolves also made 20-of-22 free throws, including all 14 of its fourth-period attempts, for a season-high 90.9 percentage.
While Georgia Southern made 47.5 percent of its shots and went 13-of-26 from beyond the arc, A-State held a 37-31 advantage on the boards and outscored the Eagles 46-30 in the paint.
“It wasn't pretty but we were able to get the win,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “It started early when I think things came a little too easily when they were in man and I think we really shot ourselves in the foot because we should have been to create some separation in the first quarter, but as good as we were offensively we were just as bad on the defensive end.”
The Red Wolves trailed just briefly early in the first quarter and outscored or tied the Eagles in all four periods. They led 24-20 at the end of the first and carried a 36-32 advantage into the break.
Arkansas State scored the first eight points of the third period to take its first double-digit lead of the day at 44-32. However, the Eagles responded with a 17-7 run to pull back within two points with 1:13 remaining in the quarter.
A-State was still able to take a 56-51 lead into the fourth and built its advantage back to double figures at 68-58 with 6:01 remaining in the game. The Eagles got back within eight at the four-minute mark, but couldn't get any closer the rest of the way.
“We had stressed that we should be able to get in some passing lanes and create turnovers and we did none of that in the first half,” Boyer said. “We were able to get a few turnovers to start the third quarter and stretch the lead out a little bit and then maintain it from there.”
Georgia Southern was also led by three players scoring in double figures, including Alexis Brown with a game-high 29 points. The game saw the Eagles' Amira Atwater hand out a First National Bank Arena-record 14 assists.
Arkansas State will close out its regular season with a pair of road games next week at ULM and Louisiana. The Red Wolves will face the Warhawks on Thursday, March 7, at 6:30 p.m. and the Ragin' Cajuns on Saturday, March 9, at 2:00 p.m.