JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) –The Arkansas State University men's basketball team had four players reach double-figure scoring as the Red Wolves knocked off archrival UALR, 86-62, this Thursday (Feb. 14) in a Valentine's Day battle for first place in the Sun Belt Conference's (SBC) West Division at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
Arkansas State led from start to finish as the Red Wolves built a 16-point halftime advantage in the instate rivalry matchup and outscored UALR 21-5 in points off turnovers to move into the top spot in the SBC's West Division before a crowd of 4,625 fans.
ASU's win gives the Red Wolves a half-game lead atop the SBC West Division standings with four regular-season conference games remaining. Arkansas State improves to 16-9 overall and 10-6 in conference play as the Red Wolves won for the fifth time in their last six appearances.
The Red Wolves received a 20-point, 13-rebound performance, both game highs, from senior forward Brandon Peterson. Peterson recorded his ninth double-double of this season and missed equaling his career single-game points high by a point. Junior guard Ed Townsel tallied 15 points off the bench while junior forward Kendrick Washington and freshman guard Cameron Golden each totaled 11 points.
"No question this was our best game of the year from start to fnish," said ASU head coach John Brady. "Our ability to make baskets and stop them made a huge difference in the game. I'm proud of our team in that we took care of the ball and did what we needed to do."
A-State held UALR to only 37.7% (20-53) shooting for the game while the Red Wolves hit on a season second-best 51% (26-51) of their shots, highlighted by draining54.2% (13-24) in the second half alone.
Both Josh Hagins and John Gillon netted 11 points apiece for UALR, but were the only two Trojans to reach double-digit scoring. Will Neighbour pulled down six rebounds for UALR, which outrebounded the hosts 31-30 for the night. For ASU, Kendrick Washington contributed six boards and Trey Finn grabbed three caroms.
Arkansas State led by double digits throughout the entire second half. UALR cut ASU's lead down to 12 points with 14:13 to go before the Red Wolves answered by going on an 8-0 spurt to go up 60-40 with 11:55 remaining. A-State maintained a lead of no less than 20 points the rest of way as the Red Wolves ended a three-game series losing streak to the Trojans.
The Red Wolves led 21-8 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half after scoring eight straight points to open the contest. ASU managed to increase its lead by 24 points at 39-15 on a pair of Brandon Peterson free throws. UALR was able to trim the margin down to 15 points with 34 seconds left on a pair of Josh Hagins' free throws as a result an ASU technical foul. Trey Finn, who had nine points in the opening frame, made the front end of a two-shot foul on the Red Wolves' end to give the hosts a 45-29 lead at intermission. Brandon Peterson keyed the A-State attack in the first half with team highs in both points (11) and rebounds (seven). ASU connected on 48.1% (13-27) of its shots in the first 20 minutes while the Trojans made 35.7% (10-28) on their side of the floor.
Arkansas State will seek to maintain its hold on the top spot in the SBC West this Saturday (Feb. 16) as the Red Wolves square off against the ULM Warhawks in Monroe, La. A 4 p.m. (CT) start is scheduled for the conference contest at ULM's Fant-Ewing Coliseum.