Troy (7-13, 3-6) got 29 points from Joanna Harden and 21 from Ashley Beverly-Kelley as Arkansas State never threatened in a game that Troy led by as many as 26 points.
In a battle of the Sun Belt’s top two scorers, Harden’s 29 points outshined Arkansas State’s Aundrea Gamble who finished with 10 points and fouled out with over 5:00 remaining in the game.
Harden has now scored 20-plus in six straight games as Troy has scored 80-plus in four straight for the first time since the 1996-97 season.
Troy’s defense was equally impressive as the Trojans held the Red Wolves, the Sun Belt’s second highest scoring team, to 65 points, the second fewest allowed by Troy this season.
“To have the number one team in the Sun Belt in our house, then to beat them and to beat them that way just makes for a great night,” Troy head coach Chanda Rigby said. “The thing I’m most excited about is the team defense. We kept the intensity level up, despite staying in a zone most of the night.”
Arkansas State (13-8, 7-2) made seven 3-pointers around the zone, but hit just 29 percent (7-of-24) while Troy hit a season-high 58 percent (11-of-19) from deep. The 11 long-range makes included six from Harden who hit 5-of-6 in the first half to give Troy an early lead it would never give up.
The Trojans held the Red Wolves to 2-of-13 field goals over a seven-minute span, including five turnovers, as Troy built a first-half lead as high as 15 points with 4:28 to go. Harden finished the first half with 18 points while fellow Sun Belt Player of the Year candidate Gamble had two, both at the free throw line.
The second half belonged to Beverly-Kelley who scored 14 of her 21 in the closing frame, including 8-of-10 from the free throw line. The sophomore finished with her second straight double-double as she posted a game-high 15 rebounds and also chipped in a game-high seven assists.
Kourtney Coleman was also in double-figures for Troy with 10 points while Ronita Garrett nearly picked up a double-double off the bench with eight points and nine rebounds. Troy outrebounded Arkansas State, 50-47, after being outrebounded earlier this season in Jonesboro, 46-33. Troy lost that game 74-65 after leading by as many as nine in the second half.
The loss snapped a three-game losing streak for Arkansas State, but the Red Wolves will remain in first place in the Sun Belt as the top three teams all lost on Saturday. A-State was led in scoring by Jalen O’Banon who had 12 off the bench. Hanna Qedan joined Gamble with 10 to round out a trio in double figures.
Troy’s win snapped a six-game losing streak against the Red Wolves that dated back to the 2009-10 season. It also marked the second straight season in which defeated the league leader in February. Troy beat Middle Tennessee, 74-70 in overtime, on the road last season.s
Troy returns to the floor on Thursday when South Alabama visits Trojan Arena for a 5:15 p.m. tipoff. The Jaguars have also won three of four, including a 61-56 defeat of UALR at home today.
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