HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Two first-half scoring droughts proved to be too much to overcome for Arkansas State as the Red Wolves (12-18) saw their season come to an end with a 62-38 loss to South Alabama (17-12) in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Women's Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Sophomore Jane Morrill led ASU with 13 points in the loss. Arkansas State hit four of its first five shots to jump out to a 10-3 lead on the Jaguars, but followed that with a scoring drought that lasted almost eight minutes.
The Red Wolves took their 10-3 advantage on a jumper from junior Ashley Olvera with 14:48 remaining in the half, but ASU's next bucket did not come until a shot in the lane from Morrill tied the game at 12-12 with 7:02 to play.
A layup from freshman Hanna Qedan with 11 seconds remaining until halftime was the only bucket that fell for Arkansas State in the remainder of the half as South Alabama closed out the period with a 25-4 run that gave the Jaguars a 28-14 lead at the break.
"The biggest thing is to give a lot of credit to South Alabama," said ASU head coach Brian Boyer. "They have played well defensively all year and have especially played well defensively against us. We played them twice this year and scored 39 at their place and got 38 today. That is pretty consistent, and they make it very difficult to score inside either off of post entries or off of drives. We knew we had to get it inside and score inside and they just made it very, very difficult to do that."
"I was pleased with the start of the game, but I don't know if that start hurts you a little bit," added Boyer. "You hit a couple of perimeter shots, and then you are your own worst enemy because we took way too many perimeter shots. I was proud of the team for the effort in the second half and still giving us a chance midway through the second half."
South Alabama extended its lead to 20 at 36-16 with 14:51 remaining on a jumper by Mary Nixon before the Red Wolves rallied to cut the deficit to 13 when Morrill converted a three-point play with 12:26 to go to make it 38-25. Arkansas State stayed within 15 points of the Jaguars until the final eight minutes when South Alabama extended its lead to put the game away.
In addition to Morrill's 13 points, Arkansas State also got eight points from junior Quinishia McDowell, seven from junior Andi Watson and four points from senior NeNe Hurst-McLennan. Olvera, Qedan and sophomore Mekena Randle all added two points and Hurst-McLennan led ASU on the boards with eight rebounds.