JONESBORO, Ark. (12/14/17) – Starr Taylor and Akasha Westbrook each finished in double-figures but it was not enough as Belmont defeated the Arkansas State women’s basketball team 83-52 in front of a crowd of 4,374 at First National Bank Arena Thursday morning.
The attendance figure ranks as the second-highest single-game women’s basketball crowd in the arena’s history and trails only the Arkansas State versus Arkansas WNIT crowd of 10,892 contest in 2005.
Westbrook led the Red Wolves (4-5) with 15 points and six rebounds, while Taylor added 13 points and three boards. Westbrook’s total marked the third time this season that she has led the team scoring and the seventh time she has reached double-figures.
Lauren Bradshaw also etched her name into the A-State record books with two blocks on the afternoon, moving her into sole possession of first-place on the all-time career blocks list with 134. She obtained the record with a rejection with 7:13 to go in the first quarter and then added another block later in the second half.
Belmont (9-2) shot 50 percent from the field and drained seven, 3-pointers on its way to the win. Darby Maggard led the Bruins with 22 points and six assists, while Kylee Smith added 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
How It Happened (First Half):
Arkansas State jumped out to a quick 8-2 advantage in the first quarter after six straight points from Westbrook, but Belmont answered with a 15-4 run to close the period. After its hot start, the Red Wolves made just two field goals over the final five minutes to allow the Bruins to take a 17-12 lead.
Belmont pushed its lead to seven to start the second quarter, but A-State battled back and worked the deficit to 19-17 after a 3-pointer by Lycia Peevy with 8:09 left in the half. Belmont answered with a quick 7-0 run to go up nine with 6:16 remaining. Taylor got the lead down to five at 28-23 with 3:42 to go, but Belmont answered again and took a 35-25 advantage at the break.
The Bruins shot 50 percent from the field in the second quarter and finished the first half at 41.2 percent. A-State also shot 50 percent from the field in the period, but made just 37 percent of their attempts in the opening 20 minutes.
How It Happend (Second Half):
Belmont made its biggest push in the third quarter and outscored the Red Wolves 27-10 thanks to a 12-of-15 (80 percent) mark from the field. A 9-2 run to start the quarter pushed the Bruins’ led to 46-27 and it grew to 51-29 with just under five minutes to go in the period.
A-State struggled to make shots in the period and made just three field goals, while giving up 14 points in the paint. Belmont continued its strong shooting effort through the end of the quarter and held a 62-35 lead at the end of the frame.
Arkansas shot just 23.5 percent from the field in the second half, while Belmont hit 59.4 percent of its attempts. The Bruins also took advantage of their size and scored 22 points in the paint, and had 12 second chance points.
The crowd of 4,374 is the second-largest single-game crowd in women’s basketball history. It surpassed the previous second-highest mark of 3,583 set against Ole Miss on Dec. 3, 1996.
Lauren Bradshaw became A-State’s all-time leader in blocks with 134. She passed Adrianne Davie mark of 132.
Akasha Westbrook scored in double-figures for the seventh time this season.
This was A-State’s first loss at First National Bank Arena this season (had a 4-0 record entering the game).
Arkansas State is now 33-27 all-time against schools from the Ohio Valley Conference.
The 31-point loss at home was the largest margin of defeat since Arkansas State lost to Northern Arizona 71-40 on Nov. 16, 2008.
Quoting Coach Brian Boyer:
“Belmont is a really good team and they are one of the best nation. They have a lot of experience returning and won 27 games last year and you have no margin of error when you play them and we just didn’t have it today. We started out playing well defensively early, but they are so mature that they figured things out and their ball movement got better and once that happened we didn’t have the scoring to keep up.”
A-State wraps up its three game home-stand with a matchup against Grambling State, Saturday, Dec. 16 at First National Bank Arena. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.