AState Vs. Western Michigan WNIT Recap
Photo Courtesy: Arkansas State
By: Justin Cook, Publisher RedWolfReport.com
The Arkansas State Lady Red Wolves were coming into tonight’s matchup with a 23-10 record on the season after suffering a loss to UALR in the Sun Belt Conference tournament by a score of 78-72. The loss to UALR ended up being the dagger that knocked the Red Wolves out of the opportunity at a chance to go to the NCAA tournament. The Red Wolves were clinging to hope that their RPI and tough out of conference schedule would help send them to the big dance, but it wasn’t meant to be this season.
The Red Wolves (23-10) took Western Michigan (20-12) on in the opening round of the WNIT. The Red Wolves were being led into the game with All American Candidate and Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year Aundrea Gamble. Gamble was coming into the game averaging 19 ppg, 5.2 rpg, and 5 apg. Gamble is a 2x Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and is only a junior. She was on the SBC All-Tournament Team, she was Player of the Week 3x in the SBC, ranked as the number 9 combo guard in the country, 41st in the country in points per game, 38th in assists, ranks 9th in the NCAA among all active players with a 19.1 scoring ppg career average.
The Red Wolves were making their back to back appearance in the WNIT tournament and was the first in 10 years to do it two years in a row. The Red Wolves were coming into the game averaging over 71 ppg, 12 apg, have a +1 rpg margin, and are shooting 70% from the field. The Red Wolves were led by Aundrea Gamble with 19 ppg and 5 apg, along with Jasmine Hunt who was averaging over 6 rpg.
For the Western Michigan Broncos they were led by Miracle Woods with 14.9 ppg and 6.8 rpg. They are led in assist by Alex Morton with 6.8 apg. This was the 4th time in school history to participate in the WNIT tournament. WMU scores 61 ppg, holds opponents to 57 ppg, 37 rpg, and shoots 70% from the line.
The game started quick for the Red Wolves jumping out to a 4-0 lead on their first two possessions. But over the next 19:00 minutes it was all about the defense. The offense managed to only shoot 27% from the field during the first half, but thanks to the defense the Red Wolves still managed to hold on to an 8 point lead at the end of the half by a score of 28-20.
The Red Wolves defense forced 13 turnovers in the first half with an in your face style of defense and a faced pace offense that was quickly wearing down Western Michigan. The WMU Lady Broncos could be seen early an often with their hands on their hips and fighting for their breath. The Red Wolves may not have shot well from the field, but they had good looks throughout the half. The pace was what helped offset the bad shooting by Arkansas State by quickly causing WMU to tire out.
The Red Wolves were being led by Jasmine Hunt during the fast half with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Rebounds were the key to the game for Hunt as she could be seen going for any ball near her and fighting for the ones away from her. This was a key for Boyer in his game plan was getting Hunt to come away with the balls that weren’t really hers.
The Red Wolves scored 12 points in the pain, had 8 points off of 13 turnovers, 9 second chance points, and 4 bench points in the first half. They weren’t happy with their shooting, but their defensive effort wouldn’t be denied by anyone.
The second half saw the Red Wolves increase their shooting percentage up to 47%. They also scored 18 points in the paint, 7 off of 6 turnovers, 7 second chance points, 2 fast break points, and 9 bench points. Lauren Bradshaw produced good minutes for the Red Wolves to spell Jasmine Hunt in the second half by going 3-3 from the field for 6 points in the second half, 8 total for the game. Hunt only scored 3 points in the second half for the Red Wolves, but she continued to dominate the boards snagging 7 more to give her 11 points and 16 rebounds on the game. The double double by Hunt propelled the Red Wolves to victory by providing the spark in the paint the Red Wolves desperately needed with players like Khadija Brown-Haywood and Hanna Qedan struggling to shoot the ball.
The game ended with a 61-49 victory for Arkansas State. Arkansas State led the game for over 38 minutes, losing it for only a matter of seconds each time. The victory for Arkansas State gave them their 4th largest win in WNIT history, gave Jasmine Hunt her career high in rebounding, gave them convo the largest women’s crowd of the year, and saw Gamble become the all-time assist leader with the win.
What helped the Lady Red Wolves play such a dominant game? The fans helped them, that’s who. The crowd encouraged the Lady Red Wolves from the moment they arrived until after the game. The team was excited when seeing so many fans there 30 minutes before tipoff and they fed off of the energy. Brittney Gill was noticed dancing and having a great time during the pre-game shoot around and the ladies just had a sense of confidence that could be seen from the get go.
The atmosphere was exciting according to Hunt. The ladies said it was great to see all of the fans and to get to continue playing in front of them since they thought the last time they’d get to play in front of them was against ULL. Aundrea Gamble said going forward they’ll continue with the mindset of one game at a time. For Hanna Qedan, she says bring on Middle Tennessee. Qedan says that she and Hunt have unfinished business with them and wants to see it done. Qedan was upset about not getting the NCAA bid and says they want to prove to them why Arkansas State deserved to be there this year, and to remember them from now on to let them know to put them in during the future.
Coach Boyer was excited about the 24th win and knows he only needs 1 more win to get his 25th to tie the school record. His question for the night though was where is his offense? He’s used to seeing his fast pace offense light up the scoreboard, but the slow first start cause the numbers to be lower than normal for the night’s game. His key was to create havoc on defense, and due to this they were able to overcome the slow shooting start. Boyer knew that this was a passing team, and they were game planning around cutting off the passing lanes and make them put the ball on the floor.
What’s next for Brian Boyer after the big win? He says it doesn’t matter who they play, that his team is ready to play, and he just wants to get out there again as quick as possible so they can play. Arkansas State now awaits tomorrow’s game between Ball State and Middle Tennessee to determine where the next Red Wolves game will be played. Teams playing each other early on get to make a bid to host the game site and get a specific window of when the games must be placed. Follow @redwolfreport on twitter or Red Wolf Report on Facebook for breaking news on when, who, and where Arkansas State will play its next game. Also, follow @JC_RWRC or redwolfrollcall.com for Arkansas State Athletic news.