JONESBORO, Ark. (1/26/13) – Four players scored in double-figures, led by a career high 23 points from senior guard Ashley Olvera as the Arkansas State women's basketball team won its sixth consecutive game with a 74-56 victory over Florida Atlantic Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
Junior forward Jane Morrill recorded her third career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds while sophomore Hanan Qedan and freshman Jalen O'Bannon scored 14 points each. ASU moved to 11-9 on the season and 8-3 in the Sun Belt Conference while Florida Atlantic fell to 10-9 and 7-4 in conference play.
"It was good a win and a win we needed," ASU head coach Brian Boyer said. "One of the things we talked about yesterday and even today was that college basketball gets more intense as you get further into the season and we expected this to be that type of game. It was intense on both ends and I was proud of the way our team handled it."
ASU opened up double-digit lead with just under nine minutes remaining in the first half, building a 23-12 advantage on a layup from Morrill. However, FAU battled back and pulled within 28-25 with 4:16 to go in the first period. By halftime, ASU led 34-30 and did not make a field goal in the final two minutes of the half.
"When we built the lead we were the aggressor and got them on their heels, but then they turned that on us in the last eight minutes of the half," Boyer said. "I think we only scored on four of our last 17 possessions of the first half and that was our message at halftime was that we needed to turn that pressure into an advantage and I thought our players did a great job of doing that."
ASU outscored the Owls 14-7 to start the second half and led 48-37 with 13:54 to go in the game. Olvera scored 14 points in the second half and pushed the ASU lead to 67-53 with a 3-pointer late in the game. ASU led by as many as 21 in the second half and never trailed.
The Red Wolves collected 42 rebounds on the night, including 33 on the defensive end. The Owl managed just 36 boards and only nine on the offensive glass.
FAU, who entered the game as one of the Sun Belt's top defensive units, forced ASU into just 15 turnovers on the night and could not find answer Morrill and O'Bannon in the paint. The Red Wolves scored 38 points in the paint and limited the Owls to just seven points off turnovers.
"Coming into this game the key stat to watch was turnovers," Boyer said. "We turned it over 27 times down at their place and they are averaging close to 24 turnovers so to be able to turn it over only 15 was very key stat for us tonight." The Red Wolves have now won nine out of their last 11 games and are in first place in the SBC West Division by two full games over North Texas.
The six-game winning streak is the longest since the 2010-11 season when A-State won six straight and advanced to the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
ASU will play its next two games at home starting Wednesday Jan. 30 in a matchup with South Alabama that is set to begin at 7:05 p.m. at the Convocation Center. A-State will host North Texas Saturday, Feb. 3 for a 2:05 p.m. tip-off.