PENSACOLA, Fla. (3/3/23) – Five players scored in double figures on Friday night, but the Arkansas State women’s basketball team’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament run came to an end in a 79-72 decision to third-seeded Southern Miss in the quarterfinal round inside the Pensacola Bay Center.
A-State (13-19) trailed by as much as 17 in the second half but outscored the Lady Eagles (21-9) 26-22 in the fourth quarter to pull within single digits. The Red Wolves poked away 15 turnovers resulting in 22 points, and scored 26 second-chance points off 16 offensive boards.
The Scarlet and Black finished the season with two wins in the Sun Belt Tournament for the first time since 2014-2015 and made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2016-17.
Anna Griffin led the way with 17 points on 6-of-10 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range as part of an A-State attack that shot 47.6 percent from the perimeter (10-21). Izzy Higginbottom added 14 points, all in the second half, and ended the season with a school-record 46 consecutive free throws made. She finished the year with a program-best free-throw percentage of 91.1 percent, surpassing Hanna Qedan’s 91.0-percent mark set in 2013-14.
Mailyn Wilkerson connected on 3-of-4 from long range on her way to 13 points, with Lauryn Pendleton scoring 12 points along with a team-high seven rebounds. Leilani Augmon chipped in 10 off the bench.
A-State shot 39.4 percent on 26-of-66, while going 71.4 percent at the free-throw line (10-14). The Red Wolves finished the season with a school-record 74.6-percent clip at the stripe.
Domonique Davis led USM with a game-high 22 points with eight assists. Lauren Gross knocked down four treys for 12 points, while Melyia Grayson notched a double-double with 11 points and 14 boards, helping the Eagles edge A-State 40-37 on the glass.
Rose Warren added 10 off the bench, going 3-for-3 from deep as part of Southern Miss’ 57.1-percent clip from beyond the arc. The Lady Eagles shot 45.3 percent (29-64) overall from the floor.
The Red Wolves overcame a slow start early in the first quarter, but closed the stanza on a 13-5 run to lead 18-17. Griffin knocked down a step-back trey as time expired to end the stretch and put the Scarlet and Black ahead.
Southern Miss moved ahead by five in the second on back-to-back threes by Gross before Augmon answered from deep to spark a 7-0 run that put A-State ahead 32-30 with under a minute left. USM closed with four straight to end the half with a 34-32 edge.
Higginbottom broke her scoring drought with a pair of buckets early in the second half, but the Lady Eagles went on a 13-0 run to expand its lead out to 50-36 before Higginbottom ended the streak with a trey. A-State pulled within nine on an Augmon jumper that capped a 7-0 run, but Grayson answered with a shot off the glass to give USM a 57-46 lead after three.
The Eagles scored nine of the first 12 points to open the fourth quarter, leading by 17, but A-State did not back down – working the margin down to six on a Wilkerson trey late.
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.
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A-State’s SBC Tourney Run Ends in Quarterfinal Battle. Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council