SAN DIEGO (11/30/19) – Traveling nearly 2,000 miles across the country and sending out a new-look starting lineup, the Arkansas State women’s basketball team faced some adversity on Saturday at San Diego State.
But, as the clock hit all zeroes, head coach Matt Daniel let out an exuberant “Yes sir!” as the Red Wolves held off the tough Aztecs for a 71-62 victory at Steve Fisher Court at Viejas Arena.
“We played focused,” Daniel said. “We were locked in. We could change defenses on the fly and call sets. They let me coach them and let me scheme. We beat a good team today. I figured out who we needed to be on this trip as we went into the Thanksgiving break, and we just had to go be that team.”
With Maggie Mahan drawing her first collegiate starting nod, the Red Wolves (2-5) led not only on the scoreboard for all but seven minutes, but also in energy. A-State out-rebounded the taller Aztecs (3-5) 35 to 27 and was focused shooting the ball, shooting 49.1 percent (26-of-53) and 50 percent (8-of-16) from three.
Jireh Washington led all players with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, highlighting another game in which three Red Wolves scored in double figures. Payton Tennison added 14 points off the bench, while Morgan Wallace chipped in 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds. Mahan only scored two points, but handed out three valuable assists in the victory while Love added three points and three boards. Tennison’s output led A-State to outscore SDSU 29-16 off the bench.
Téa Adams led three Aztecs in double-figure scoring with 16 points, a team-high five rebounds and game-high eight assists. Sophia Ramos added 15 points while Taylor Kalmer tallying 13. Adams and Kalmer each drilled three from outside the arc to lead SDSU.
The Aztecs opened with a trey by Kalmer, but Jada Ford responded with her own to tie things at 3-all early. SDSU connected on an inside bucket by Baylee Vanderdoes and a three by Adams to take an early 8-3 lead.
A-State then picked up the energy, forcing six turnovers that sparked a 10-0 run to make it a 13-8 score. During that run, Love scored off of a turnover she helped create, followed by back-to-back shots off the glass by Trinitee Jackson, who scored nine points to go along with seven rebounds in 15 minutes. After Monique Terry broke up the run, Kayla Williams drilled a three to give the Red Wolves their largest lead of the quarter at 17-10.
SDSU closed with three straight points, as A-State led 17-13 after the first quarter.
The Aztecs clawed back to tie things up at 21-all after a 5-0 run and then again at 24 about midway through the quarter, but could not reclaim the lead. A-State then stretched its lead out to nine at 33-24 on a 9-0 run that included a pair of threes by Tennison. Zayn Dorstauder scored once inside for the Aztecs, but Wallace closed out the half by hitting 1-of-2 at the line, giving the Red Wolves an eight-point lead at the break, leading 34-26.
After not connecting on the first two shots of the second half, the Red Wolves then went on a stretch where they made four shots in a row to extend their lead out to double digits at 42-32.
The Aztecs struggled to hold a sustained scoring run, but a couple of threes cut A-State’s lead down to three with less than 30 seconds to go in the third. The Red Wolves ended the quarter on a strong note with Washington drilling a corner three at the buzzer to give her team a six-point lead with 10 to go at 51-45.
Tennison opened the final quarter with a three at the top of the arc to make it 54-45 before beating the shot clock with her fourth trey of the day a minute later. Wallace then hit one of two free throws followed by Shameka Tubbs powering in a layup to put A-State ahead 60-47 – its largest lead of the day.
A 7-0 run by the Aztecs cut it down to a five-point game with under 3 minutes to go, with Adams scoring four of those seven. Washington broke the run with a layup and sparked a 5-0 A-State run that once again gave the Red Wolves a double-digit lead with under a minute left.
The Aztecs’ last effort came when Ramos drilled her second three of the day with 31 seconds to go, but with the Red Wolves in the bonus, Washington knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
The Red Wolves will be back in action at 7 p.m. CT on Monday, Dec. 9, back in the friendly confines of First National Bank Arena, taking on in-state foe Arkansas-Pine Bluff., The contest can be heard on the EAB Red Wolves Radio Network on 95.3 The Ticket.
For the latest on the A-State women’s basketball program, follow @AStateWB on Twitter and @astatewbb on Instagram, while also liking the team’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/RedWolvesWBB.