Arkansas State University wasn't exactly sure where it was going, but the bus was packed and ready.
After defeating Louisiana-Lafayette 75-73 on Saturday at the Cajundome in Lafayette, La., the Red Wolves (12-17, 7-11 Sun Belt) learned they would be the No. 9 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and travel to No. 8 Coastal Carolina (16-13, 8-10) for a first-round matchup at 6 p.m. Central today at the HTC Center in Conway, S.C.
The winner will advance to meet No. 5 seed Appalachian State at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans.
ASU, which went 1-9 from Jan. 12 to Feb. 16, completed the regular season with its seventh conference victory and finished the year 3-3.
"It's not easy," ASU Coach Brian Boyer said. "But, I keep reminding the team that we have nobody to blame but ourselves. This is where we're at. We at least get to travel after a win and can hopefully build on that."
ASU held a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter against Coastal Carolina on Jan. 26 at the HTC Center, in the teams' only meeting. Coastal Carolina, which normally uses a matchup zone on defense, unleashed a full-court press on the Red Wolves late to finish the game on an 11-0 run to beat ASU 88-72.
"We actually played well here the first time," Boyer said Sunday. "We led most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, they started pressing us and we kind of, really, just fell apart."
Boyer said a priority for ASU is to hit perimeter shots against Coastal Carolina's zone defense because it's tough to drive inside on the Chanticleers.
Coastal Carolina center Naheria Hamilton, a 6-4 sophomore, is tied for second in the Sun Belt in blocks per game at 1.6. She has 45 blocks in 28 games.
In their first matchup, ASU went 7 for 15 from beyond the three-point line and was outscored 44-26 in the paint.
Coastal Carolina junior guards Caitlin Roche (28 points) and D.J. Williams (23) combined for 51 of the Chanticleers' 88 points, their third-highest point total in the regular season.
"They're one of, if not the most, athletic teams in the league -- just in terms of overall athleticism and depth and size," Boyer said.
ASU did not have starting sophomore guard Morgan Wallace in that game because of an injury. Wallace is now healthy and averaging 7.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, but she's an aggressive on-ball defender.
"She can struggle against zone [defense]," Boyer said, "but she can still make up for it with what she can do defensively. A lot of times, she scores out of her defense. She can help us in this game a lot."
Sports on 03/11/2019
Print Headline: ASU women target Coastal Carolina