JONESBORO, Ark. (12/16/17) – Arkansas State senior Lauren Bradshaw recorded her first double-double of the season, while Akasha Westbrook led the team in scoring as the Red Wolves defeated Grambling State 76-56 Saturday afternoon at First National Bank Arena.
Bradshaw finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Westbrook scored a game-high 16 points to lead the Red Wolves to their fourth home victory of the season. Westbrook helped lead a strong night at the free throw line for A-State as the team went 31-of-43 from the charity stripe. The 31 made free throws are tied for the fifth most in school history, matching a mark set against San Jose State in 2006.
The Red Wolves (5-5) shot 42.9 percent from the field, while holding the Lady Tigers to just a 32.3 percent clip. Grambling (3-5) also made just 57.7 percent (15-of-26) of its free throw attempts, while also holding the squad to just a 1-of-15 (6.7 percent) mark from beyond the arc. A-State also forced Grambling into 24 turnovers, which it turned into 27 points on the offensive end.
A-State also got a big boost from its bench, which scored 39 points. The unit was led by Peyton Martin who finished with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting, including a 4-of-8 mark from the free throw line. Morgan Wallace and Peyton Tennison each finished with eight points, while Tayton Hopkins added six points off the bench.
Grambling State had three players in double-figures, led by Shakyla Hill and Deja McKinney with 15 points. Hill also had a game-high seven steals, while Monisha Neal rounded the box score with 11 points.
How It Happened (First Half):
A-State erased an 8-0 start by the Lady Tigers thanks to an 18-4 run over the final 6:41 of the first half. The Red Wolves missed their first six shots to open the game and committed five turnovers before settling into a rhythm when Tayton Hopkins knocked down a mid-range jumper to settle the offense.
A-State needed just 1:12 to take a lead it would never relinquish, doing so on a layup by Westbrook with 5:04 left in the opening quarter to go up 9-8. Tennison helped the lead grow to 16-10 with under 3 minutes to with a 3-pointer, while Wallace went coast-to-coast after Jada Ford got a steal and sent it ahead that forced Grambling into a 30-second timeout. The Lady Tigers had eight turnovers that led to 13 points for A-State in the period.
Grambling worked the lead down to 20-18 with 7:25 to go in the second quarter, but Arkansas State responded with a 10-0 run to push the advantage to 30-18 with 4:09 remaining in the half. The Red Wolves took advantage of the Lady Tigers’ aggressive defense and went 6-for-6 from the free throw line during the run.
Westbrook was the key source of the offense in the second quarter, scoring seven points, five of which came the free throw line. She hit her only field goal of the period on a jumper that gave the Red Wolves their largest lead of the first half at 33-20 with 2:13 to go.
How It Happend (Second Half):
Grambling trailed by 16 with 3:19 to go in the third quarter, but outscored the Red Wolves 16-7 over the next seven-plus minutes to work the deficit to 55-48 on a layup by Takerra Parsons with 7:36 to go. A-State struggled with ball control over the time frame, committing nine turnovers and making just four field goals in the third quarter.
Tennison helped turn the fortunes back in the Red Wolves’ favor with a dramatic 3-pointer from that just beat the shot clock to push the lead back to 10-point. The make also sparked a 9-0 run for A-State that got the advantage to 64-48 after a pair of free throws from Bradshaw with 4:31 to go.
Grambling struggled to find open the looks the rest of the way as the Red Wolves continued to make shots from the free throw line to seal the game. A-State went 20-of-25 from the free throw line in the second half.
A-State is a perfect 5-0 this season in “bounce back” games when coming a loss in its previous game.
The Red Wolves made 31 free throws Saturday night, tying the record for fifth most all-time in school history. A-State also made 31 free throws against San Jose State on Dec. 12, 2006.
Lauren Bradshaw recorded a double-double for the first time this season and for the fourth time in her career.
Akasha Westbrook scored in double-figures for the eighth time this season.
Quoting Coach Brian Boyer:
“It was not a pretty game but the final score is pretty. We knew coming into this Grambling liked to play this way. They are a team that likes to gamble on the defensive end and we didn’t handle well at times throughout the game, and really what you saw was a feast or famine type of game. If we took care of the pressure and handled it well then we were going to get some easy scores, but if you turn the ball over it leads to points for them which happened as well.”
“The start to the game was more of wakeup call for us more than anything. I am proud of how we responded. They came out with a lot of energy and we looked flat, but we got ourselves through it. That first rotation of subs really helped us and Tayton Hopkins gave us a big lift and then Peyton Martin gave us a lift as well to help get out of that hole and work ourselves back into the game.”
A-State concludes non-conference play Friday, Dec. 22 at Tulsa. Tip-off is set for 1:00 p.m.