Women’s Basketball: Red Wolves Get Top Spot in Sun Belt Conference Tournament; Trojans 3-Seed


Red Wolves Dominate ULL

JONESBORO, Ark. – Led by four players in double figures the Arkansas State women’s basketball team secured the outright Sun Belt Conference regular-season championship with a 80-49 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday afternoon at the Convocation Center.

Playing in her final regular season home game, senior forward Jane Morrill A-State with 18 points, while fellow senior Carlisha Wyatt added a season-high 13 points and Hanna Qedan chipped in with 10.

Sophomore guard Aundrea Gamble collected her second double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 assists and flirted with a triple-double by grabbing eight rebounds. She also added five steals and went 6-of-9 from the field and perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line.

Arkansas State improved its record to 20-10 overall and 14-4 in the SBC, while Louisiana-Lafayette fell to 14-15 and 7-11 in the league. The top-seeded Red Wolves will begin play in the 2014 Women’s Basketball Sun Belt Conference Championship at noon on Wednesday, March 12 at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La., the eight-seeded Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

“I was pleased with the effort tonight and this has obvious been a really good week for this team,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “I was proud of our players for buying into what we knew had to against Lafayette and attacking off the dribble.”

A-State started the second half with a flurry, quickly pushing its 17-point halftime advantage to 32-point lead in just eight minutes. Gamble and Qedan started the 22-7 run with a pair of 3-pointers and Wyatt followed with a pair of baskets and a free throw to push the lead to 45-26 at the first media timeout of the half.

Morrill’s 3-pointer with 12:24 to go pushed the lead to 58-28 and the Red Wolves held their largest lead of the game after Jessica Flanery drained a trey to go up 85-39 with 2:48 to go in the game.

Gamble scored 11 of her points in the second and dished out seven of career-high 10 assists in just 14 minutes of work on the final period. As a team, the Red Wolves shot a season-high 59 percent from the field, while Louisiana-Lafayette just 26.9 percent. The Red Wolves also grabbed 42 rebounds on the night compared to the Ragin Cajuns’ 34 and Arkansas State held a 42-16 edge in points in the paint.

A-State and Louisiana-Lafayette traded baskets through much of the first half, but Morrill sparked a 10-0 run with 10:03 mark of the first half when followed her own miss as the Red Wolves reeled 10 straight points to take a 22-9 lead. The Red Wolves took their largest of the first half when Morrill hit a jumper with 1:55 to go to push the advantage to 35-18.

Saturday’s win gave Arkansas State is first 20-win season since 2007-08, while the 14 conference wins are the most ever by an A-State team in Sun Belt Conference play. The Red Wolves also held the lead from wire-to-wire during league play and took sole possession of first-place after the second week of league play and never relinquished it.

“I am proud of this group and it was exciting to finish it the way we did this week,” Boyer said. “We’ve continued to improve and as I’ve said before being able to lead from the first game of conference play all the way till now is impressive and this team deserves a lot of credit for the way they have played this year.”

Arkansas State will next play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in New Orleans, La., at Lakefront Arena March 12-15.

Trojans Fight Back, Take Victory Over ULM

LITTLE ROCK – With conference tournament seeding on the line and a home court advantage to protect, it appeared for 30 minutes of game time that the UALR women’s basketball team was not up to the challenge.

But despite being down 49-39 against ULM at the Jack Stephens Center on Senior Night, one Trojans senior was not going to have her home career end with a loss.

Taylor Ford tied a career high with 24 points, leading the Trojans on a 14-0 run from that point and taking the lead back for the first time since early in the game. UALR eventually extended that run to 21-4 and defeated the Warhawks 72-62, securing the No. 3 seed for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament next week in New Orleans.

UALR (17-11, 12-6 SBC) will face No. 6 seed Troy on Wednesday for a berth in the tournament semifinals on Friday. ULM (11-19, 7-11), meanwhile, will take on regular-season champion Arkansas State earlier in the day on Wednesday.

The Trojans closed out their home conference schedule undefeated at 9-0 for the third time under Joe Foley while also winning their 10th straight game in Little Rock. UALR has defeated ULM in their teams’ last five meetings. The Trojans have also reached 12 wins in conference play for the seventh consecutive year.

It took more than just Ford’s 24 points to win this one for the Trojans as Shanity James racked up her fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor Gault also scored in double figures with 17 points, adding five assists and three rebounds.

But for 30 minutes, it appeared ULM was going to leave Little Rock with a victory. The Warhawks outshot, outrebounded and seemingly out-hustled UALR on its home court.

Down by 10 points at 39-29 and seemingly out of the game, the Trojans started their huge run with two jumpers from James. That was followed by two Ford free throws and two ULM turnovers. Kiera Clark got a layup to make it a 49-47 deficit, and a James and-1 layup made it 50-49 UALR with 8:27 to go. James’ free throw gave the Trojans their first lead since 16 minutes were on the clock in the first half.

But UALR was not content to just take the lead. A Clark and-1 layup extended it to a 3-point UALR advantage, and she sank the ensuing free throw to make it 53-49. The Warhawks got back within two after two free throws by Ashleigh Simmons, but a Ford basket a Gault 3-pointer and a Gault jumper put UALR back up by seven points with 5:57 to go, capping its 21-4 run. They never led by fewer than five again.

Ford hit two more free throws in the final minute to tie her career high of 24 points. She also recorded her 100th steal during the game while going 8 for 8 from the free-throw line. Gault moved up to fifth all-time at UALR with 230 made free throws, and Clark got her 400th rebound.

Senior Nia Gregory got her first career start in the game and played four minutes, picking up one assist before leaving the game with 16 minutes to play in the first half. The Trojans were fouling early and struggling on the boards, letting ULM hold an 18-6 advantage in rebounding with four minutes remaining in the half.

Trailing 27-21 at that point, UALR closed the half strong, going on an 8-4 run heading into the break. Ford finished the half with 11 points, and UALR had five rebounds in that final four-minute segment as it closed the gap to 31-29 at halftime. The Warhawks led by as many as nine in the half.

But the team struggled early in the second half as well, continuing to let ULM dominate the glass and made easy layups inside. The Warhawks held a 12-point lead with 13:19 remaining after a 3-pointer by Alexar Tugler. But from there, UALR controlled the rest of the night.

Besides the big nights from Ford, James and Gault, Clark tallied seven points and four rebounds. Freshman Keanna Keys had five points and two boards. No other Trojans scored in the game. James contributed defensively as well, picking up two steals and two blocks. Freshman Sharde’ Collins had two steals as well.

The Trojans will face No. 6 seed Troy in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. In the teams’ two previous games this year, UALR won at the Jack Stephens Center while Troy claimed a victory on their home court.

2014 Women’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament Bracket

2014 Women's Sun Belt Conference Tournament Bracket

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