Red Wolves use strong second half to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette

JONESBORO (ASU) – Led by three players scoring in double figures, including junior forward Brandon Peterson with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Arkansas State overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette 79-74 Saturday night at the Convocation Center in Sun Belt Conference basketball action.

A-State snapped a three-game skid, improving to 9-12 overall and 3-4 in league play.  The Red Wolves also ran their home record to 7-5.  The Ragin' Cajuns fell one game below .500 with the loss, now standing 10-11 overall and 4-3 in conference action.

"I thought it was a good college basketball game," said ASU head coach John Brady. "I think Lafayette is talented, I think they play hard and Bob Marlin does a good job with his team, but our team played really well. That's probably as good of a 40 minutes as we have played. They scored too many baskets in the first half on us and we let them score too easily at times, but in the second half offensively and defensively I thought it was the best we have looked all year."

Peterson collected his second double-double this season and the fifth of his career, matching his season-high scoring total and finishing only one rebound shy of his best game on the boards this year.  He was joined in double figures by junior guard Trey Finn and senior forward Malcoln Kirkland with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

"I was proud of the way everybody played tonight. The Sixth Man Club was overflowed with people and the fans that came out tonight were great and uplifted our team," continued Brady. "I'm grateful to them for being there for us and I'm sure they had a good experience because our team and coaches did. It was a good college basketball game in a good environment and I was proud of our team for the resiliency and toughness it showed in the second half."

ASU, which scored its most points in a game since putting 108 on the scoreboard against Lyon College on Dec. 19, improved its overall shooting percentage from .419 in the first half to .500 in the second after trailing 44-34 at the break.

At the same time, the Red Wolves limited a ULL team that shot 59 percent in the first half to 38 percent in the second and forced the Ragin' Cajuns into 11 of their 14 turnovers over the final 20 minutes.

Still trailing by 10 points, 52-42, with 16:25 left in the game, the Red Wolves went on an 8-0 run to close the gap to just 52-50.  The Ragin' Cajuns responded with four quick points that pushed its lead back to six at the 13:13 mark, but A-State then went on another 8-0 run over the next three minutes to claim its first lead since midway through the first half.

The game's next five minutes featured two lead changes and three ties before ASU took the advantage for good.  With the score tied 65-65, Finn hit a three and followed with a layup on the Red Wolves' next possession to give A-State a 70-65 advantage with 4:38 remaining.

ASU pushed its lead to as much as seven two different times over the final minutes and didn't allow ULL to get closer than three points.

While UL Lafayette ended the game with a higher field goal percentage, .483 to .462, ASU claimed a 41-31 advantage on the boards and scored 22 second-chance points.  The Red Wolves also recorded 15 assists, led by sophomore guard Ed Townsel with a career-high eight.

Townsel, along with freshman guard Rakeem Dickerson, also recorded nine points, while junior guard Marcus Hooten added eight.  The Ragin' Cajuns were led by three players scoring in double figures as well, including J.J. Thomas with a game-high 20 points.

ASU begins a two-game road swing with an 8:05 CT contest against Denver on Thursday, Jan. 26.