Second half surge fuels Red Wolves to fourth straight home win

From Arkansas State University

A late second-half surge by the Arkansas State University men's basketball team proved vital as the Red Wolves produced a 69-57 victory over Austin Peay on Sunday (Dec. 16) afternoon at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.

The Red Wolves, who improved to 6-3 overall this season with the non-conferencewin, kept their perfect record (4-0) at home intact as a result of all-around effort and second-half defensive pressure.

"We showed a tremendous amount of effort and I'm really proud of them, " said ASU head coach John Brady.  "Our defensive pressure created situations in the second half which allowed us to score some easy baskets and win the game.  I thought all of our guys played with a lot of effort defensively and it was a good game for us in finding a way to come out on top."

Senior guard Trey Finn, who finished the contest with a team-high tying 15 points all in the second half, powered A-State midway thru the second half by knocking down three consecutive three-point field goals from each side of the floor to snap a 42-all deadlock at the 11:18 mark.  Finn's third triple in the sequence put the Red Wolves up 45-43 with 10:34 remaining as the hosts would never relinquish the lead.

The Red Wolves jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the first four-plus minutes before Austin Peay would come back and proceed to take a 29-24 lead at intermission.  The first half, which was A-State's lowest points output this season, featured five ties and seven lead changes.

The Governors held the advantage through the first eight-plus minutes into the second half, albeit by no more than seven points (35-28) at one juncture.  The Red Wolves gradually chipped away at APSU's lead and closed to within a point at 38-37 on a three-ball by junior guard Ed Townsel with 14:27 remaining.  Austin Peay then tallied a pair of baskets to build the lead up to five (42-37) at 12:56 before A-State reeled off nine unanswered points in less than a three-minute stretch culminating in Trey Finn's third triple in a row.  ASU would go on to extend its lead by double-digits at 57-47 with 4:12 left and held its widest margin of the second half at 12 points (69-57) with less than a half-minute to be played.

ASU had four starters reach double-figure scoring as the groups combined to account for 75 percent of the Red Wolves' points production.  Finn shared top team honors with Ed Townsel while freshman guard Raeford "Gator" Worsham recorded 12 points.  Senior forward Brandon Peterson supplied 10 points and reached double-digit points for the eighth straight game.  Junior forward Kendrick Washington returned after being sidelined the previous ASU game due to an injury and netted nine points off the bench. On the defensive end, Peterson's seven rebounds led the Red Wolves while Finn hauled down six boards as A-State held a 38-36 advantage on the glass.  ASU also forced the Governors into 28 turnovers as the Red Wolves outscored the visitors 23-8 in points off miscues.  The Red Wolves also notched a season-best 19 steals with four players claiming at least four the thefts led by Peterson's career and game-high five.

Arkansas State's players combined to shoot 38.5% (25-66) for the game, including a five-of-20 (25%) effort behind the three-point line. ASU also sank 14-of-25 (56%) free throws in the victory, which improved the Red Wolves' non-conference mark to 6-1 on the season.

Austin Peay, which falls to 4-6 overall this campaign, was paced by Travis Betran's game-high 21 points.  Betran was joined in double-figure scoring by Anthony Campbell with 14 points and Chris Horton, who registered a double-double with a 10-point, 13-rebound performance to go with four blocked shots and three steals. APSU was 23-of-46 (50.0%) from the field and made seven-of-12 (58.3%) three-point tries along with four-of-nine (44.4%) free throws.

 "It was a good win for us and with this game being where it was on our schedule, it was important for us especially for what lies ahead on Wednesday night (against Murray State)," added Brady.  "I think if we can get that defensive effort from our guys on Wednesday then it should be a fun game to watch and for our players to play in."

A-State concludes its current three-game homestand this Wednesday (Dec. 19) evening as the Red Wolves gear up to take on the highly-regarded Murray State Racers at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro.  The non-conference contest, which will be shown on ESPN3, is scheduled to get underway at 7:35 p.m. (CT).  Tickets for this key matchup can be purchased by calling the ASU Ticket Office at (870) 972-27891 or 1-888-ASU-FANS or by visiting the A-State Athletics website at<>.