JONESBORO — Arkansas State struggled offensively for about five minutes Saturday afternoon, missing nine of its first 10 shots from the field.
Then Keya Patton started scoring and her teammates followed suit.
Patton poured in 30 points, all in the first half, to lead ASU to a 98-70 rout of Louisiana-Monroe in Sun Belt Conference women's basketball. The junior guard was 7-of-7 from the field in the second quarter while scoring 20 points as the Red Wolves built a 51-31 halftime lead.
"Honestly I had a really good workout before the game," said Patton, who was 10-of-14 from the field. "After that workout, I felt great and as soon as I got in the game, the rim looked like an ocean. It just opened up."
Patton was 7-of-10 from the 3-point line on a record day from distance for ASU (8-7, 1-1 Sun Belt). The Red Wolves were 16-of-33 from the 3-point line, setting school and arena records for 3-point baskets.
Mailyn Wilkerson was 4-of-8 from the 3-point line to add 12 points. ASU's perimeter shooters helped create space for forward Trinitee Jackson, who scored 16 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Interim head coach Destinee Rogers said she wasn't surprised by the Red Wolves' slow start against the Warhawks (4-13, 0-3 SBC). Because of COVID-19 cancellations, Saturday's game was the Red Wolves' first since the Dec. 30 Sun Belt opener at Georgia Southern.
"I knew we would be rusty at the beginning of the game, but there was no doubt in my mind that we would knock it off really quickly. We made the quick sub with KP and she caught fire, and the rest is history," Rogers said. "We knew it was going to happen that way just because we've been off so long and we haven't played a game, but I knew if we just continued to play hard and continued to share the ball, those shots were going to fall."
After trailing by as many as seven points, the Red Wolves began to stir late in the first quarter.
Patton started a quarter-ending 12-1 run with a four-point play. She gave ASU the lead for good at 16-14 on another 3-pointer and Morgan Wallace hit a 3 in the final seconds to give the Red Wolves a 19-15 lead.
The game became a blowout in the second quarter as Patton hit all five 3-pointers she attempted, and the Red Wolves were 7-of-11 as a team beyond the arc in the period. Another four-point play by Patton was part of a 13-2 run that gave ASU a 43-25 lead with 2:10 left in the first half.
Patton became the first Red Wolf to score 30 or more points in a game since Jada Ford against Northern Kentucky in the 2016-17 season. Saturday's point total was ASU's highest in a Sun Belt game since scoring 101 against Troy in the 2015-16 season.
Rogers said ASU conducted a lot of shooting drills over the last couple of practices.
"Credit to these two," said Rogers, who sat between Patton and Jackson in the postgame press conference. "KP and TJ have been practicing really hard. TJ got off to a slow start, but she came back with that bounce in the second half, and we started feeding her the ball, and she took control of the paint. Having a double-double, I think TJ can score and rebound like that every game.
"I think KP is capable of having 20-plus a game and when we have these two playing that way, I really think we're hard to beat."
Six different Red Wolves scored from the 3-point line. Lauryn Pendleton and Jireh Washington finished with nine points each, with Washington also adding six rebounds and five assists.
With ULM focusing on Patton, other Red Wolves found the basket in a 29-point third quarter where ASU led by as many as 31 points. Jackson scored 10 points in the third period and Wilkerson added nine on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
"With KP making the shots, it kind of opened up even more because they were so worried about her," Jackson said. "It freed me more so I could be more aggressive."
The Red Wolves finished with 23 assists on 34 field goals. Ten players scored for ASU, which led by as many as 32 points.
Bre Sutton scored 15 points and Katlyn Manuel added 14 for ULM, which has lost six in a row.
Rogers said she is proud of the way her team handled the break created by the cancellation of games against Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette.
"Being off for as long as we were, it could have been easy for this team to just be frustrated with the process and all of that, but I felt like we had extra days to really work on us," Rogers said. "Although it was annoying that we weren't playing other teams, the team really bought in and locked into getting better at us. We used that time to get better at us and I think it showed."
ASU has two home games this week. The Red Wolves are scheduled to host Appalachian State on Thursday at 5 p.m., then Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 1 p.m.