JONESBORO, Ark. (2/7/19) – Five Arkansas State players scored in double figures to lead the Red Wolves to a 69-58 victory over South Alabama Thursday night at First National Bank Arena in a Sun Belt Conference women’s basketball game.
A-State now stands 9-12 on the season and 4-6 in league play, while South Alabama had its five-game winning streak snapped and now holds a 17-4 overall record and 6-4 Sun Belt mark. Arkansas State completed a regular-season sweep of USA, also winning 77-64 in Mobile in January.
“The biggest thing tonight was our defense,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “During our struggles here lately I’ve really felt like it was our defense that had let us down and while we didn’t get the win at Little Rock I thought we took a step in the right direction and then tonight we delivered an even better performance against a team that was averaging nearly 70 points and to hold them to only 58 was really good.”
The Red Wolves were led by Jireh Washington with a team-high 14 points, while Peyton Martin scored 12 and Morgan Wallace, Payton Tennison, and Akasha Westbrook each added 11. The game marked the second time this season A-State had five players reach double digits in the scoring column, also doing so against UT Martin in its third contest of the year.
A-State finished the outing with a 42.9 shooting percentage in comparison to USA’s 35.1, and it also held a 36-34 advantage on the boards. The Red Wolves connected on 5-of-8 three-pointers and 22-of-31 free throws. Their defense limited the Jaguars to a 26.9 three-point percentage, and South Alabama was 11-of-14 from the foul line.
South Alabama held its largest lead of the game at 14-10 with 2:44 left in the first quarter, but the Red Wolves closed the period out with a 6-0 run to retake a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night.
Still holding a narrow 21-20 advantage three minutes into the second quarter, A-State went on a 16-5 run to take a 37-25 lead into the break. The Red Wolves outscored the Jaguars 21-11 for the entire period, the biggest scoring difference out of all four quarters.
Arkansas State held its largest lead of the night, 43-30, at the 6:22 mark of the third period. However, USA was able to cut its deficit down to six points, 48-42, by the start of the fourth.
The Jaguars closed to within 48-45 early in the final period, but the Red Wolves responded with a 14-7 run to push their lead back to double figures with 3:08 remaining. South Alabama couldn’t get closer than five points the rest of the way. Washington scored 12 of her 14 points in the final period to help A-State close out the win.
“Jireh and Morgan are so good together in the open court and I think they really feed off one another,” Boyer said. “The one thing about Jireh is that she finishes about as well as any guard I’ve ever had. She is very crafty around the rim and when gets in space and in the open court she can’t finish on really tough shots.”
South Alabama was led by three players scoring at least 10 points, including Savannah Jones with a game-high 19. A-State’s Wallace narrowly missed a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds.
The Red Wolves remain at home for the next game, hosting Troy (16-5, 7-3) Saturday, Feb. 9, at 4:00 p.m.