A-State women’s basketball wins overtime thriller to advance to first SBC quarterfinal since 2017

Batesville alum had a career-high 28 points, powering A-State to the SBC Quarterfinals
Batesville alum had a career-high 28 points, powering A-State to the SBC Quarterfinals(Morgan Givens | Sun Belt Conference)
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 8:25 PM CST
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (KAIT) - Batesville alum Izzy Higginbottom scored a career-high 28 points, 21 of those coming in the final quarter and overtime, powering Arkansas State to the Sun Belt Quarterfinals over Georgia Southern, 81-76 at the Pensacola Bay Center Wednesday night.

Higginbottom only scored five points in the first half, but it didn’t stop the Red Wolves (13-18) from jumping ahead early, outscoring the Eagles (20-8) 27-14 in the first quarter. The Red Wolves hit a red-hot five threes in the opening frame, connecting on 59 percent of its shots (10-17). Lauryn Pendleton had 9 of those 27 points, leading the team in scoring at the half.

Pendleton finished with 15 points, including arguably the biggest shot of the night. With 8 seconds to play in the fourth quarter down by two, Pendleton connected with a jumper from the baseline to tie the game at 72. It marked a stretch where the Red Wolves just wouldn’t go away. They came back from down four with 30 seconds left. Prior to the Pendleton shot, Anna Griffin (7 points, 6 rebounds) drilled a big three to make it a one-point game. After Pendleton tied it, A-State forced a Georgia Southern stop to send the game to overtime.

Higginbottom took over in the final four minutes, hitting back-to-back jumpers to give the Red Wolves a 6-0 run to start OT. Her two free throws with 24 seconds left sealed the deal as the Red Wolves won by 5. The Sun Belt’s leader in free-throw percentage, Higginbottom went a perfect 11-11 from the line, making her just the fifth player from the conference to accomplish that this season.

The Red Wolves have now won multiple Sun Belt Conference Tournament games for the first time since 2015, making their first quarterfinals since 2017. Arkansas State will face the No. 3 seed Southern Miss Friday night at 5:00 PM on ESPN+. The Red Wolves lost both regular season matchups with the Golden Eagles, falling 61-36 on the road on January 12, and again 68-59 at First National Bank Arena on January 26.