Jonesboro, Ark. — Arkansas State shot 51.9 percent in the second half to extend on a three-point halftime lead, and took advantage of 25 turnovers by the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team to pick up a 78-67 win over the Lady Toppers Monday night at the Convocation Center.
The loss dropped WKU to 12-9 overall and 6-5 in the Sun Belt Conference, while ASU improved to 10-11 and 4-6 in the league.
The Lady Toppers were hurt by 15 first-half turnovers, but still lead by as many as five points early when a Arnika Brown layup made it a 12-7 game with 14:27 to play in the half. In fact, WKU did not trail until a 10-2 run by the Red Wolves gave them a 24-20 lead after an Ebonie Jefferson layup at the 4:20 mark. In fact, Arkansas State was able to open up a 28-21 lead less then a minute later after a Brittney Hiles layup.
WKU came back with an 8-1 run of its own to tie the game at 29-29 when Brown hit a layup with 13 seconds remaining, but Shania Hurst — who led all scorers at the break with nine points — knocked down a three at the buzzer to send ASU to the locker room with a 32-29 lead.
The Lady Toppers used a quick 6-1 run to regain a 35-33 lead on a Amy McNear layup with 16:42 remaining, but the Red Wolves scored nine of the next 11 points to again pull out to a seven-point lead when a Jefferson free throw made it a 44-37 score. WKU again was abel to get back within a point with just under 11 mintues remaining.
WKU could not pull even or take the lead, however, as Arkansas State again wehtn on a run to open up a 57-49 lead on a Jazmine Taylor three-point play with 7:50 remaining. The Red Wolves would see their lead grow to 14 when a Brittney Hiles layup made it a 67-53 game with 5:07 left, and the lead remained in double digits until WKU made a run to cut it to nine in the final minute. However, ASU held on down the stretch to extend the final margin to 11.
Kenzie Rich led the Lady Toppers with a game-high 23 points, while McNear added 18 and Brown finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Hurst came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points for the Red Wolves.
The Lady Toppers will remain on the road to visit Louisiana-Monroe for a 7 p.m. (CST) contest on Wednesday.