JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – A career-high 31 points performance from Arkansas State University's Ed Townsel was enough to vault the Red Wolves to a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) home-opening 87-70 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette this Thursday (Dec. 27) night in men's basketball game at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
Townsel, who surpassed his previous career-best 27 points against Lamar at home earlier this season (11/25), helped the Red Wolves end a two-game skid as A-State is now 7-5 overall and 1-2 in conference action for this season. Furthermore, the Red Wolves continue to play well at home as noted by their current 5-1 ledger. Louisiana-Lafayette falls to 5-9 overall and 1-2 in the SBC with the loss.
"This is a win was important, one which we needed and we're able to get it," said fifth-year ASU head coach John Brady. "The key to winning this game was how we started both the first and second halves. We had some lulls but I thought we had the game under control most of the time which speaks well for our team.
"I thought Ed (Townsel) was phenomenal. Raeford "Gator" Worsham along with Cameron Golden also played really well for us," added Brady.
A-State quickly started out the contest by scoring 13 unanswered points after the ULL netted the game's initial basket. The Red Wolves, behind Townsel's 14 first-half points, would bump their lead up to as many as 14 (23-12) eight minutes into the game only to have the Ragin' Cajuns storm back to get within three at 31-28 with 2:43 left in the opening stanza. But, A-State was able to widen the gap up to eight as Townsel scored the Red Wolves' last four points of the half to give ASU a 38-30 advantage at the break.
Much like the start of the contest, ASU came out strong in the second half by outscoring ULL 29-11 in the first nine-plus minutes to go up by 26 points at 67-41 with 10:40 left to be played. The Ragin' Cajuns chipped away at the Red Wolves' lead in the next five minutes to pull within 11 (70-59) at the 5:40 mark, but would get no closer as ASU scored six straight to build a 17-point advantage at 76-59 with 3:34 remaining. ULL narrowed the margin to 11 points (77-66) one more time as 2:24 was left on the clock before A-State made all eight of its free throws in the final two minutes to secure their first conference victory of the season.
Raeford "Gator" Worsham finished with a season-high tying 18 points and senior guard Marcus Hooten tossed in 11 to join Townsel as the only other ASU players recording double-figure points. A-State's point guards, sophomore Rakeem Dickerson and freshman Cameron Golden contributed nine and eight points, respectively as all eight Red Wolves whoplayed scored. A pair of seniors, forward Brandon Peterson and guard Trey Finn both shared team-high rebounding honors with seven apiece and Townsel grabbed six boards to go with a game-high tying three steals.
Elfrid Payton was the top points getter for Louisiana-Lafayette with 20 as four Ragin' Cajuns produced double-digit point totals. Payton also hauled in six rebounds and dished out a game-leading five assists. Shawn Long racked up eight rebounds to share game-high laurels with ASU's Peterson and Finn.
ASU shot 46 percent from the floor by going 26-for-56 and was six-of-18 in three-pointers for 33 percent efficiency. The Red Wolves went to the charity stripe 37 times and make good 29 free throws for 78 percent. ULL hit six-of-20 triples for 30 percent and chalked up a 44 percent in shooting with a 29-of-66 performance. The Ragin' Cajuns were six-of-10 from the line for 60 percent. Arkansas State would also claim the advantage on the glass, outrebounding ULL by 10 boards (41-31).
The Ragin' Cajuns would out produced the Red Wolves in points in the paint (46-32) and in bench scoring (42-21), but ASU managed to outscore ULL in second-change points (22-9) and also points off turnovers (25-19).
"We took a step in the right direction and it's important we take positive steps forwards even if they're small ones," said Brady. "The challenge for us is we need to be ready to play come this Saturday and play well to beat that team (South Alabama)."
ASU continues Sun Belt Conference this Saturday (Dec. 29) evening as the Red Wolves close out the 2012 calendar year visiting theSouth Alabama Jaguars in Mobile, Ala. The matchup gets underway at 7:05 p.m. (CT) in the USA Mitchell Center. The game can be heard live on the EAB Radio Sports Network with Matt Stolz calling the action and also online at www.AStateRedWolves.com.