Jeff Reed – Arkansas State vs UALR Women’s Game Deserves Top Billing




Jeff Reed Author PageThe undercard at Thursday night’s round 1 of the Arkansas State vs UALR contest probably should be the headliner.

Instead, the contest between Brian Boyer’s Red Wolves and Joe Foley’s Trojans will tipoff around 5:05. In year’s past, those who attended the men’s game would not be privy to seeing the women play, even if they arrived early. But this year, under new Sun Belt Conference guidelines, the game is game one of a doubleheader.

We will say the doubleheaders were not something Arkansas State athletic director Terry Mohajir was in favor of because A-State sells a separate season ticket package for its women’s games. And if you notice the start time of the few Saturday games, there is a pretty good gap. The game has been a twin bill in Little Rock for years.

But no doubt the women take center stage tonight.

Joe Foley’s Trojans have been among the league’s best in the Sun Belt for years. Always a contender, they slipped last year and fell behind Western Kentucky and Arkansas State, which won its first conference title in NCAA competition.

Preseason polls this year had the Red Wolves, who returned player of the year Aundrea Gamble and several other keys players, at the top of the Sun Belt. UALR was second.

As we hit the midway point of the conference race, well at least it is for Arkansas State, which has had to play 10 league games in a 26-day span, trails UALR by two games. The Trojans, who opened eyes early with a victory at LSU in November, have been hammering teams in Sun Belt play.

Four times in league play they have allowed 40 points or less while no team has scored more than 67 points. They have won every Sun Belt Conference game this season by at least 20 points and are averaging a margin of victory of 26.1 points.

UALR is third in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 50.1 points per game overall. In Sun Belt Conference games, UALR is averaging 43.9 points per game allowed. That number is 15.5 points lower than the second-place team in that category.

Arkansas State, which has stumbled at Appalachian State and UL-Lafayette, is second in the league in offense at 71.6 points a game. The Red Wolves’ 7.4 scoring margin is second only to the Trojans’ 14.8.  A-State is the best shooting team in the league while the Trojans are the best at field goal percentage defense.

In the nightcap, John Brady’s Red Wolves have been a mystery. With nine new faces, the Red Wolves have played well at times and not so well at other times. And to make things even more confusing, they are 5-4 in road games and 4-6 at home.

Things have been so backwards for the team, Brady even opening responded to a tweet this week that he would consider wearing the team’s road jerseys at home.

The men should tip around 7:30.

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Jeff Reed is editor of

Arkansas State vs UALR

UALR Women’s Game Notes

GM 19 >> UALR (16-2, 9-0 SBC) at Arkansas State (13-7, 8-2 SBC)

Thursday, Jan. 29 • 5:05 p.m. (CST)
Jonesboro, Ark. • Convocation Center

LITTLE ROCK – The Trojans’ biggest regular-season game to date has arrived. UALR, undefeated in Sun Belt Conference play, will travel to Jonesboro for a battle with in-state rival and second-place Arkansas State on Thursday. The Red Wolves and Trojans will tip at 5:05 p.m.

• UALR made it nine consecutive Sun Belt Conference victories on Saturday with another dominating performance. UALR knocked off UT Arlington by 28 points, remaining the only unbeaten team in the league.
• The Trojans’ excellent defense is third in the nation in points allowed per game, giving up just 50.1 points per contest. The Mavericks scored only 38 points, their lowest total of the year.
• In Sun Belt Conference games, UALR is averaging 43.9 points per game allowed. That number is 15.5 points lower than the second-place team in that category.
• UALR has claimed a victory in all nine Sun Belt Conference games by at least 20 points, and the team is averaging a margin of victory of 26.1 points per league game.
• Shanity James is coming off the highest-scoring week of her season, as she reached double-figure scoring in three straight games and had two double-doubles last week.
• UALR is receiving votes in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll, pulling in six votes. That is triple the Trojans’ previous high this season. The Trojans are No. 8 in the Mid Major Top 25 rankings and are receiving a first-place vote for the fifth straight week. UALR is No. 45 in the RPI rankings as of Wednesday morning.
• UALR and Arkansas State are long-time rivals, with the Red Wolves holding a 43-14 edge in the all-time series.

UALR continues to stump opponents with its incredible defense this season, and UT Arlington was no different on Saturday at the Jack Stephens Center. The Mavericks scored a season-low 38 points as UALR won its ninth straight game by at least 20 points, 66-38. Shanity James led the way offensively with 17 points, just missing her third straight double-double. UALR held the Mavericks to just 32.6 percent shooting from the field. The Trojans are all alone in first place in the conference standings.

The Trojans are riding a huge wave of success over the last decade, making the postseason for six of the last seven seasons including three NCAA Tournament berths and three WNIT trips. The team had two players on the All-Sun Belt Preseason Team, and Coach Joe Foley is back for his 12th year leading the Trojans. UALR was picked second in the Sun Belt’s preseason coaches poll.

• The Red Wolves, who come from nearby Jonesboro, are 13-7 on the season with an 8-2 conference record, second-best in the Sun Belt. Arkansas State’s two losses in the league came against Appalachian State and Louisiana, both teams UALR defeated by at least 21 points. The Red Wolves most recently defeated Troy by 6 points on Saturday.
• Arkansas State played a difficult non-conference schedule, losing to Power 5 Conference foes Missisippi State, Colorado, Ohio State and Kansas. UALR and Arkansas State both beat Missouri State in non-league play.
• Aundrea Gamble is by far the Red Wolves’ best player, and she was named to the league’s Preseason First Team. She has won two SBC Player of the Week awards this year, and she is averaging 19.1 points per game and is second with 5.3 rebounds per game. She also leads A-State with 4.6 assists per game.
• Khadi Brown-Haywood (10.6) and Hanna Qedan (10.3) are also averaging double-figure scoring. Jasmine Hunt leads the way with 5.7 rebounds per game.
• Brian Boyer is Arkansas State’s coach, and he is the longest tenured coach in the Sun Belt. His career record is the same as his record with the Red Wolves, and in 15 years he is 261-219.

Arkansas State is UALR’s longest active rival, and the Red Wolves have a large 43-14 advantage in the all-time series. But since UALR became a Division I school in 1999-2000, things are much more even. Since 2000, UALR is 13-17 against the Red Wolves, and since 2006 the Trojans lead the series 13-5. Last season, the teams split their games with Arkansas State claiming a 77-45 win in Jonesboro and UALR winning 64-55 in Little Rock.

…continue UALR’s best-ever start to a season with a 17-2 record after 19 games…be the Trojans’ 13th consecutive regular-season conference win dating back to last year…improve UALR to 10-0 in conference for the first time since 2010-11…be the Trojans’ 11th straight win overall for the first time since 2012-13…be UALR’s second straight win against Arkansas State…get UALR halfway to an unbeaten conference regular season.

In the last eight years, UALR has done a tremendous job in its conference games, claiming at least 12 victories in each of those years. The Trojans have not finished below .500 in the Sun Belt since the 2005-06 season, Joe Foley’s third year. UALR also won the West Division Championship for six consecutive seasons when the league still had divisions. Over the last eight seasons, the Trojans hold a record of 120-31 in the league, and UALR won the conference tournament championship twice.

WIN #350
Saturday’s victory over UT Arlington was a milestone for the UALR program, as the Trojans have now won 350 games in their existence since the late 1970s. Joe Foley is responsible for an impressive 231 of those victories over the last 12 years, or 66 percent of them.

Shanity James has been very impressive over the last week, recording two double-doubles and nearly getting a third on Saturday against UT Arlington. James had 17 points and eight rebounds against the Mavericks, just missing her fourth double-double of the season. The junior had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Troy on Jan. 22, and that performance came just one game after scoring 17 and adding 11 rebounds at South Alabama on Jan. 19. Her first double-double this year came back on Dec. 30 when she got 12 points and 13 rebounds in the Trojans’ first Sun Belt game against Louisiana.

Keanna Keys had 10 points in UALR’s second game of the season against Missouri State on Nov. 18, but since that day she had 15 games without reaching double figures. That changed on Saturday against UT Arlington, as the sophomore impressed with 12 points and five rebounds. Half of her points came at the free-throw line as she sank a career-high six free throws on six attempts.

With her 13 points against UT Arlington, Taylor Gault has now scored in double figures for 10 consecutive games and 16 of 18 this season. She has reached at least 10 points more than any other Trojan this year. Her current streak began with 16 points at Tulsa on Dec. 21. She followed that with 11 points against Louisiana, 21 at Georgia State, 15 against South Alabama, 24 against Texas State, 15 against Appalachian State, 20 against ULM, 23 at South Alabama, 14 against Troy and 13 on Saturday. Gault is third in the Sun Belt with 17.3 points per league game.

UALR held UT Arlington to just 38 points on Saturday, but this was far from the first time a Joe Foley-coached UALR team has kept the opposition to a point per minute. In his 12 seasons with the team, Joe Foley has held an opponent to 40 points or fewer an incredible 31 times. UALR has now done this four times this season: Once to UT Arlington, twice to South Alabama and once at Rice.

Allowing just 50.1 points per game overall, UALR sits at No. 3 in the nation in scoring defense as of Tuesday morning. In Sun Belt only games, UALR is giving up an impressive 43.9 points per game, 15.5 points fewer than second-place UT Arlington’s 59.4 points per game allowed. UALR finished seventh in the nation in scoring defense after the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, but a finish in third this year would be the school’s best ever.

UALR allowed UT Arlington have just 18 points in the first half on Saturday and a mere 20 in the second half. UT Arlington is the Trojans’ 10th opponent this year to have a half with 20 points or fewer. The Mavericks are also the Trojans’ seventh straight opponent to score 20 points or fewer in the first half.

The Trojans’ 66-38 win over Troy was its ninth consecutive win by at least 20 points to start Sun Belt play. The Trojans are averaging a margin of victory of 26.1 points in their nine league games so far.

UALR is receiving votes in this week’s USA Today Coaches Poll, pulling in six votes. That is triple the Trojans’ previous high this season. UALR last received two votes in the poll three weeks into the season. The Trojans remain strong in the Mid Major Top 25 poll from UALR is again the No. 8 team in this week’s poll for the sixth straight week and is receiving one first-place vote for the fifth straight week. No other Sun Belt team is ranked in the poll, though Arkansas State has made the “receiving votes” category with 27 points. UALR has 561.

As of Wednesday morning, the Trojans are ranked No. 45 in the country according to the NCAA’s RPI rankings. UALR is up three spots from the day of its win against UT Arlington on Saturday. The next-highest Sun Belt school in the rankings, Arkansas State, is ranked No. 72.

With the win against UT Arlington on Saturday, UALR again defended its home court. The team has won 19 consecutive conference games at home. UALR had an incredible home-court advantage last season, going 13-1 for a winning percentage of .928. The Trojans were also 9-0 at home in conference play, finishing their Sun Belt slate undefeated at home. The team has done this three times in its history now under Joe Foley, going 9-0 in 2007-08, 2009-10 and 2013-14. Overall at the Jack Stephens Center, UALR is 121-22, a winning percentage of .846.

UALR has completely dominated its opponents this season on the fast break, averaging 7.4 fast break points per game to the opposition’s 2.5. UALR has 133 fast-break points this season while its opponents have only 45. The Trojans had a 10-2 advantage in that category against ULM on Jan. 17, a 10-0 edge at South Alabama on Jan. 19 and a season-best 14-0 edge against South Alabama on Jan. 5.

UALR went 5-0 for the first time ever this year to begin a season, and the team is now once again having the best start to a season in team history. Never before through 18 games have the Trojans had only two losses. The team’s previous best 18-game start to a year was in 2008-09 when the team was 14-4.

The Trojans have been leading 16 games this season with five minutes to play, and they have held onto all 16 of those leads. In fact, UALR has yet to lose a game when leading at halftime. The Trojans are 13-0 in those situations. UALR is also undefeated when it outrebounds its opponent, when the opponent shoots less than 40 percent from the field, when scoring at least 60 points and when the team’s bench has more points than the opposition bench.

UALR is relying on the 3-pointer much more than it had last season, and the results are already showing. UALR is shooting 36.5 percent from distance this year and 41.9 percent from distance in conference-only games. The Trojans have already made 69 3-pointers this year, bettering the total they made in all of 2013-14 by nine.

UALR’s opponents this season have been committing turnovers at an incredible rate, owing largely to the Trojans’ defense. South Dakota State committed 28 turnovers on Dec. 18, the largest number for any Trojan opponent this year. Twelve of the Trojans’ 18 opponents coughed up the ball at least 20 times this year. UALR opponents are averaging 20.6 turnovers per game. All of last year, opponents averaged 17.4 turnovers per game. UALR, meanwhile, only averages 15.1 turnovers per game this season.

The Trojans continue to pester opponents this season with pressure defense, and their steal totals keep climbing because of it. While Trojan opponents have just 85 steals all season, UALR has picked up 163 steals in its 18 games. The Trojans, averaging 9.1 steals per game, earned a season-high 15 steals against South Dakota State on Dec. 18. The team has recorded at least 10 steals in six games, and only one team has had more than 10 steals against the Trojans. UALR held UT Arlington to just one steal on Saturday.

Against UT Arlington:
• Shanity James reached 100 career assists.
• Kiera Clark got her 800th career point.
• Taylor Gault tied for second all-time at UALR in attempted free throws.
Coming soon:
• Taylor Gault needs one more block for 100. With two more attempted free throws, she’ll tie for first all-time in program history. With 10 more made free throws, she will tie for first all-time.
• Ka’Nesheia Cobbins will reach 300 career points when she scores one more.
• Kiera Clark needs three more rebounds to tie for eighth all-time and nine more rebounds for 500.
• Kaitlyn Pratt’s next offensive rebound will be her 100th.
• Shanity James needs nine more rebounds to tie for sixth all-time at UALR.

A-State Women’s Game Notes


The Arkansas State women’s basketball team will host in-state opponent UALR at the Convocation Center in a Sun Belt Conference tilt at 5:05 p.m. on Thursday evening. The game can be heard on 95.3FM The Ticket/970AM KNEA, while live video streaming will be provided with a paid subscription to the Red Wolves Digital Network.
Arkansas State is coming off an 82-76 victory at Troy this past Saturday where the Red Wolves had to eliminate an 11-point first half Troy lead. Six players scored in double-figures, led by a season-high 21 points from Hanna QedanJasmine Hunt(12 points and 12 rebounds) and Aundrea Gamble(13 points and 11 assists) also posted double-doubles, while Brittney Gill narrowly missed out on her first career double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. The Red Wolves have reached the midway point of their conference season with an 8-2 record and will look to kickoff the second half with a victory over the first-place Trojans.
UALR enters the game on a 10-game winning streak and are a perfect 9-0 in league play thus far. The Trojans are beating their opponents by an average of 26.1 points per game during conference play, and have held opponents to just 43.1 points per outing.
A-State leads the all-time series 44-15, including a 26-4 edge in Jonesboro.
• This will be the 60th meeting all-time between A-State and UALR with the Red Wolves holding a 44-14 all-time advantage.
• The second largest crowd in A-State women’s basketball history occurred on Jan. 10, 2002 when 6,149 people attended the game between A-State and UALR.
• A-State won the first 18 games in the series, but UALR has enjoyed the most recent success by winning 11 of the last 15 match ups.
• The Red Wolves have never won in the Jack Stephens Center, going 0-8 since the arena opened in 2005-06
• A-State  has defeated the Trojans 26 times to just four losses in Jonesboro, but UALR has taken the last two out of the last three games in Jonesboro.
• One of A-State’s largest victories was a 90-39 (51 points) victory over UALR during the 1975-76 season.
• Brian Boyer is 19-13 against UALR all-time.
• Arkansas State had six players score in double-figures in hits 82-76 victory at Troy on Jan. 24.
• It marked the first time since Dec. 7, 2001 that the Red Wolves had six players score in double- figures. In that game A-State needed four overtimes to defeat Ole Miss 86-81.
• Aundrea Gamble recorded the seventh double-double of her career on Jan. 24 at Troy with 13 points in 11 assists.
• This marked the second time in her time at A-State the All-America candidate has recorded a double-double with points and assists.
• The last time she did it was March 8, 2014 against ULL when she had 17 points and 10
• In both cases, she narrowly missed out on her first career triple-double. Against ULL she
finished with eight rebounds, while against Troy she six rebounds.
• Jasmine Hunt recorded her second career double-double on Jan. 24 at Troy with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
• The performance came after she set a career-high with 20 against Louisiana-Lafayette on Jan. 22.
• In the Red Wolves 10 conference games, she is average 11.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, both of her are higher than her season average.
• She has scored in double figures in three straight games and has grabbed no less than five rebounds in each of A-State’s SBC games.
• At the midway point of the conference season, Arkansas State stands in second place with an 8-2 record.
• Amazingly, Arkansas State and Texas State are the first two teams to reach 10 games played in the conference. Both teams needed just 26 days to play the first half of its schedule.
• By contrast, it will take the Red Wolves 38 days to play their final 10 games of their schedule, which will include back-to-back weeks in which it will play just one game a week, neither of which will be on a Saturday.
• Thursday’s game against UALR will match the Sun Belt’s two best teams with the highest RPIs in the latest NCAA reports. UALR has the league’s best RPI at 45, while Arkansas State checks in at 72.
• No other team in the Sun Belt ranks in the top 100.
• Reigning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and the 2014-15 Preseason SBC Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble has failed to reach double figure scoring three times this season, but A- State is 2-1 in those games.
• Gamble has failed to reach double figures in a game just six times in her career and the Red Wolves are 3-3 in those games.
• Aundrea Gamble became the 22nd player in Arkansas State history to score 1,000 points in her career on Jan. 19 at home against Georgia State.
• Gamble needed just 52 games to reach the mark.
• At her current pace, Gamble could reach 2,000 points by the end of her career, and would make her just the second player in school history to reach the mark.
• Sonja Tate is the school’s all-time leader in points with 2,312 in her career.
• Redshirt junior guard Amanda Lawson has been one of the best shooters for the Red Wolves throughout the entire season. She leads the team with a 55.8 field goal percentage and has gone 21-for-28 over the last seven games.
• Lawson has shot over 50 percent from the field in all but two of A-State’s games this season and has been perfect or missed just one shot in seven games this year.
• Over the last three years, A-State has gone a combined 21-4 in the month of January.
• In 2012-13, the Red Wolves dropped their first game in the month but then went on to win
seven straight.
• In 2013-14, A-State went 7-1 in the month of January, all of which were conference games.
• This season the Red Wolves are 5-2 in the month.
• For the first time since the 2012-13 season Arkansas State does not hold at least a share of first place in the Sun Belt Conference standings.
• The Red Wolves were wire to wire leaders in the SBC last year.

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