Jonesboro (KAIT) – The Arkansas State men's basketball team (16-12, 11-6) used a game-ending 14-2 run to overcome a five-point deficit with less than five minutes to play and pick up a 63-56 Sun Belt Conference victory over New Orleans (8-20, 3-14) Thursday night at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves took over sole possession of second place in the SBC's West Division, but remain one game behind North Texas in the standings with one regular-season game left to be played by both teams. In addition to the Mean Green, ASU is also one game back of East Division co-leaders Troy and Middle Tennessee in the league's overall standings heading into its home game against Troy Saturday night.
Brandon Reed scored a game-high 18 points and finished the night as ASU's all-time freshman scoring leader with 429 points for the season. Reed passed Jerry Rook, who scored 416 points as freshman in 1961-62 and is ASU's all-time career scoring leader with 2,153 points.
Reed was one of two ASU players to reach double digits in the scoring column, joined by sophomore forward Martavius Adams with 13 points that were all scored in the second half. Brandon Peterson and Rashad Allison followed with nine points each for the Red Wolves.
Trailing 54-49 with 4:50 left in the game, ASU started its run when Adams converted a three-point play at the 4:39 mark and then tied the game with a jumper just over a minute later. UNO then scored its final bucket to take a brief two-point lead on a Charles Camouche dunk with 2:40 remaining.
ASU scored the game's final seven points, starting with a Daniel Bryant lay-up followed by a three from Reed that put the Red Wolves on top 59-56 with 1:49 to play. UNO was whistled for a charging foul on its next trip down the court and Allison then made a lay-up with 42 seconds left to give the Red Wolves a five-point advantage. Following a pair of blocked shots by Peterson and a missed three during UNO's next possession, Peterson scored on a break-away dunk with 18 seconds to go to set the final score.
"We found a way to win the game, even when we didn't play as good as we have been," said ASU head coach John Brady. "But anytime you can win like that, you have something in your team that is a good trait. Now we can't come out like that on Saturday, but I think our players will learn from this and be ready to go Saturday. It was a good win for us and the crowd got us going the last few minutes."
UNO built a 29-23 halftime lead, posting a .407 field goal percentage in comparison to ASU's .375 and outrebounding the Red Wolves 20-14. However, ASU shot a blistering 75 percent, held UNO to a .333 field goal percentage and kept the rebounding battle closer in the second half. ASU, which was outscored 18-10 in the paint during the first half, finished with 34 points inside to UNO's 28.
ASU finished the night with a .545 shooting percentage to UNO's .370, while the Privateers grabbed 33 boards to the Red Wolves 26. Arkansas State was led on the boards by freshman Trey Finn with eight rebounds, and Finn also handed out a team-high four assists to go along with five points.
The first half featured eight lead changes and five ties, but UNO outscored ASU 10-3 over the final 2:45 to build a six-point lead at the break. UNO held a seven-point lead, its largest of the game, twice in the second half and held the advantage all the way until a Jeremy Thomas dunk with 10:59 left in the game tied the score at 40.
With the score tied 45-45, UNO went on a 9-4 run to build the five-point lead before ASU closed out the game in strong fashion.
ASU will play Troy on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the Convocation Center on the Red Wolves "Senior Night".