RUSTON, La. – A fierce second-half comeback was not quite enough on Sunday afternoon, as Arkansas State dropped a 67-54 decision at Louisiana Tech to end non-conference play.
Jada Ford led A-State (3-8) with a season-high and game-best 17 points on six made baskets, two from three-point range. Fourteen of her 17 points came in the second half. The Lady Techsters (8-3) held off the Red Wolves with clutch free throws down the stretch to extend their lead after A-State cut it to a one-score deficit with under five minutes to go.
“They came out and hit us in the mouth in the second quarter but I felt like we got better in the second half,” head coach Matt Daniel said. “We played better but we missed too many easy plays around the basket. We just have to fight, and we didn’t do that in the second quarter. We’re focused on conference play and the young women in our locker room believe we can do damage in this league. What I live for and what I coach for is hope, and we’ve got it. We played hard, we just have to play harder and play smarter.”
In addition to Ford’s season-best performance, Jireh Washington added 13 points and a career-high six steals while Peyton Martin chipped in 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds. A-State has now had at least three double-figure scorers in seven of its 11 outings this season.
As a team, the Red Wolves forced a season-high 25 turnovers and collected 16 steals. Three players, including Washington, registered three or more steals. Payton Tennison matched her career high with three while Maggie Mahan snagged a career-high three. A-State shot 32.8 percent (19-of-58) from the field while going 12-of-18 at the free-throw line (66.7 percent).
LA Tech also had three double-digit scorers, led by 16 points from Raizel Guinto off the bench on 5-of-9 shooting (4-of-7 from three). Amber Dixon posted 12 points on 4-of-6 from the floor while Keiunna Walker posted 10 points. The Lady Techsters shot 41.5 percent (22-of-53) from the field and went 18-of-23 (78.3 percent) from the free-throw line.
A-State opened with a ton of energy on both ends of the floor, starting the contest on a 12-2 run, forcing LA Tech to call a timeout after Washington drilled a corner three with 5:24 left in the first. During that stretch, the Red Wolves forced five Lady Techster turnovers.
LA Tech cut the deficit to 12-5 on a three by Lotte Sant to kill the run before Tennison drilled a three to once again make it a double-digit lead. A layup by Starr Taylor and a pair of free throws by Morgan Wallace then gave A-State its largest lead of the quarter at 18-5. LA Tech cut it down to an eight-point deficit with just over a minute left in the quarter before a jumper by Taylor ended the first quarter with the Red Wolves ahead 21-11.
The Lady Techsters opened the second quarter on an 11-0 run to take a 22-21 lead and force an A-State timeout with 5:26 to go in the half. After the timeout, LA Tech added to its lead with 12 more unanswered to end the quarter, stretching out to a double-digit lead on two free throws by Guinto. The Lady Techsters took a 34-21 lead into the halftime break.
After LA Tech’s Daria McCutcheon scored off an early turnover, the Red Wolves battled back to score eight unanswered with four apiece from Martin and Washington to force the Lady Techsters to use a timeout with 6:41 left in the third. A pair of free throws by Brianna Harris stretched it out to a nine-point lead, but Jada Ford took a turnover to the rim and drew the foul, converting the and-one to make it 38-32 with under six minutes left in the quarter.
LA Tech responded with a trey by Guinto and a layup by Anna Larr Roberson to move back out to an 11-point lead but A-State clawed back with a second-chance bucket by Martin followed by a layup by Ford off a behind-the-back pass from Washington on a turnover to make it 45-38 with 3:29 to go in the third. Martin converted on 1-of-2 at the line, but LA Tech closed out the third quarter on a 5-0 run to lead 52-39 after three.
The Red Wolves opened the fourth on a 5-0 run with a layup by Martin and a trey by Ford to trim the deficit to eight with eight minutes to go. Ford’s three moved her into a tie for sixth all-time at A-State in made three-pointers, giving her 149 for her career.
A pair of free throws by Wallace cut the deficit down to four with 4:42 left, and then Ford added two more with 4:11 to go to make it a one-score game at 54-52. Meme Amand answered with a layup for the Lady Techsters, followed by a three-point play by Dixon to make it 59-52 with 3:09 to go. LA Tech would close out the day with an 8-2 run to round out scoring for the day and hold off the Red Wolves for a 13-point victory.
The Red Wolves will be back in action to open Sun Belt Conference play at 7 p.m. on Thursday, returning to the Lone Star State to take on UT Arlington. The game against the Mavericks at the College Park Center will be aired live on ESPN+ while the broadcast can be heard on the EAB Red Wolves Radio Network on 95.3 The Ticket.
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