CONWAY, Arkansas (AStateRedWolves.com) — Aundrea Gamble scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half as the Arkansas State women's basketball team defeated Central Arkansas 73-61 Saturday afternoon at Farris Center.
Gamble was held to just six points at halftime, but caught fire in the final 20 minutes and helped A-State (6-5) erase a five point deficit after the Red Wolves held a 34-33 lead at halftime, but Central Arkansas (5-5) went on a 6-0 run to start the second half retake the lead and continued to hold the lead until Jalen O'Bannon converted an and-1 play to give the Red Wolves a 46-43 with 10:46 to go in the game.
Gamble pushed the lead to 53-47 after a fantastic spin move that allowed to her score the basket and draw a foul. The redshirt sophomore hit the free throw and freshman Jamie Ruffins followed with a steal and a layup to give A-State a 55-47 lead with under seven minutes to play.
Gamble continued her torrid pace in the second half and gave the Red Wolves a seven point lead (60-53) when she hit a 3-pointer from the corner with four minutes to play. She finished the second half with 15 points. She helped Arkansas State ice the game with a pair of free throws with 21 seconds left in the game to set the final.
"I'm not sure this is a game that we should have necessarily won by the way we played, but we are not giving it back either," A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. "We had some key players do some key things at key times that really gave us lift during the game."
O'Bannon scored a season-high 16 points and was a force in the paint along with Jane Morrill, who had 10 points, on the afternoon. The Red Wolves dominated play in the painted area, outscoring UCA 36-18 in the paint and holding a plus-10 margin on the boards.
For the second straight game, the Red Wolves shot 50 percent (26-52) from the field and was aided by big performance from Jessica Flanery. The sophomore from Mountain Home, Ark., tied a career-high with nine points in the first half, while Carlisha Wyatt also provided a spark in the second half to help Arkansas State put the game away.
Arkansas State started the game by scoring six points in 64 seconds thanks to back-to-back steals from O'Bannon and Gamble that prompted an early timeout from the UCA bench, which settled the Sugar Bears and allowed the squad hit two straight 3-pointers to dig itself out of the early deficit.
A-State found success going to its post players in the first half. O'Bannon scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the opening frame, while Morrill added six points on 3-of-5 shooting. Both players established position in the painted area and beat their defenders with post moves to keep the Red Wolves in front of Central Arkansas in the early part of the period.
The Red Wolves led 13-8 with after O'Bannon hit a 3-pointer for the second straight game with 14:04 remaining in the half, but UCA fought back and went on a 7-0 run to take a 15-13 lead with 12:34 left in the half. The advantage grew to 22-17 with 10:07 to go after back-to-back 3-pointers from the Sugar Bears, but Flanery helped the Red Wolves erase the deficit in a matter of minutes.
Flanery knocked down a 3-pointer to pull Arkansas State within two (22-20) and then got a steal and made a behind the back pass to O'Bannon before falling out of bounds to tie the game a 22-22. After a UCA basket, Flanery hit a ‘3' to give A-State a 25-24 lead.
Central Arkansas took the lead again but Flanery came up again and hit her third 3-pointer of the half followed by a Morrill mid-range jumper with 22 seconds left in the half to give A-State a 34-33 lead going into the break.
A-State will return to action after the Christmas holiday when it travels to the state of Texas for an eight-day, three-game road swing that will begin at Texas A&M. Tip-off with the Aggies is set for 7 p.m. on Dec. 30 and live audio of the game can be heard at AStateRedWolves.com. For in-game updates follow @AStateGameDay on Twitter and stay up to date with A-State women's basketball team by following them on Twitter (@AStateWB), Instagram (AStateWBB) and Facebook (Facebook.com/RedWolvesWBB).