TROY, Ala. — The Arkansas State women’s basketball team suffered its first setback of the Sun Belt Conference season with an 87-79 loss to Troy Saturday afternoon at Trojan Arena.
A-State (8-7, 3-1) had three players in double-figures led by Akasha Westbrook with 19 points and Payton Tennison with 16, while Morgan Wallace turned in her second double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Red Wolves trailed by three with 2:01 to play after a steal by Jireh Washington led to a fastbreak layup by Wallace. A-State had an opportunity to cut the deficit to one when Tennison collected a steal and threw the ball ahead to Wallace again, but she was unable to convert the attempt and the Trojans (13-2, 4-0) swung momentum back in their favor with a 3-pointer from Amber Rivers to go up 81-75 with 1:10 to go.
Washington cut the lead to four with a layup, but Troy answered with two quick layups to put the game out of reach for Arkansas State at 85-77 with under 30 seconds to go in the game.
“You knew a run was coming for them and it felt like the first few minutes of the third quarter we couldn’t get the ball onto our side of the court,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “But we answered and I was really impressed with that and was able to get it within a couple points late in the game to give ourselves chance.”
A-State held a 38-30 lead at the halftime, but Troy went on an 8-0 run to open the second half to go up one and the lead grew to 51-46 with 4:29 to go in the period. A-State responded with a 7-0 run of it’s, led by the play of Tennison, who knocked down a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper on back-to-back possessions to get within 58-56.
Troy answered with a quick 6-0 spurt to start the fourth quarter, but the Red Wolves answered again with an 8-0 run of their own to get within 72-70 with 4:21 remaining in the game.
“We played as well as we could play in the first half,” Boyer said. “We did everything we needed scoring wise, kept our turnovers down and held them to just 30 points which was big because we felt if we could hold them in the 60s we’d have a good chance.”
A-State jumped out to a quick lead in the first quarter thanks to a 10-0 run that was punctuated with a fastbreak layup by Westbrook that forced a Troy timeout. Troy continued to struggle, missing nine of 10 shots to close out the frame as the Red Wolves took a 19-13 lead.
Tennison hit a pull-up jumper to push the lead to double-digits for the first time at 23-13. Troy closed to within seven, but Jordan Elder hit her second 3-pointer of the half with 1:44 to go to push the lead to 38-28. A-State was 6-of-12 from beyond the arc on the first half and assisted on 11 of its 15 field goals.
Kayla Robinson led the way for Troy with 16 points, while Harriet Winchester added 14 and Kate Rodgers finished with 11.
A-State returns home to host UT Arlington Thursday, Jan. 17. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. from First National Bank Arena and the matchup will air on ESPN+.