LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (3/2/13) – The Arkansas State University men's basketball team was whistled for a season-high 30 fouls as the Red Wolves would suffer a 78-71 regular-season finale loss to instate rival UALR this Saturday (March 2) night in a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) West Division encounter at UALR's Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Ark.
The finale was a physical one as both teams were assessed a combined 59 fouls, which included seven technicals. The Red Wolves' 30 team fouls was one more than UALR's as five players fouled out.
"I feel bad we weren't able to get it done for our fans, who were here in numbers and great tonight," said ASU head coach John Brady. "We didn't score when we needed to and also had some defensive mistakes which hurt us. All of the fouls called certainly made it not only a difficult game to play in, but also to coach in.
"I disappointed with the outcome but congratulate UALR. They were better than us in the second half and that was the difference," added Brady.
The Red Wolves now set their sights on the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Championship Tournament and will have a first-round bye as a result of winning the SBC West Division and receiving the tourney's No. 2 seed.
ASU will face the opening-round winner of Troy-Florida Atlantic contest next Saturday, March 9, at 9 p.m. (CT) in Hot Springs, Ark. ASU concluded the 2012-13 regular season at 18-11 overall with a first-place 12-8 SBC West Division mark.
The opening half featured a combined 26 fouls were assessed, including four technicals. Arkansas State held an eight-point advantage at 24-16 with 6:44 to go on a three-pointer from Ed Townsel. UALR then went on an 8-3 run in the next three minutes to draw into a 27-all tie with 3:18 left on the clock.
A pair of Marcus Hooten free throws broke the deadlock as the Red Wolves would go onto claim a 35-32 lead at intermission. Hooten was the lone player on either team to score double figures at the break with 14 points.
ASU would hold the upper hand eight minutes into the second half, but its largest lead of the stanza of 10 points at the 12:37 mark would evaporate as the Trojans tallied 11 consecutive points in just under a two-minute span to take its first lead at 51-50 with 10:46 remaining in the game. UALR would never trail the rest of the way as the Trojans maintained a single-digit lead and withstood a couple A-State rallies to pull out the victory.
For ASU, senior guard Marcus Hooten led all scorers with a season-high 25 points, going 9-14 from the floor and hitting all three triples while making good on four-of-five at the free throw line. Senior guard Trey Finn recorded 14 points to join Hooten as the lone Red Wolves in the double-figure scoring column.
Freshman guard Cameron Golden added eight points for A-State, which connected on 42.9% (21-49) of its shots while UALR posted 44.9% (22-49) for the game.
Senior forward Brandon Peterson's 10 rebounds was tops among both teams as the Red Wolves outperformed the Trojans on the glass by a 34-28 margin.
UALR was led by John Gillon's 24 points and Leroy Isler netted 13 as the Trojans improved to 17-14 overall and 11-9 in the SBC West. The hosts outscored the Red Wolves 24-6 in the paint and produced a 45-25 bench-scoring advantage.
Arkansas State will now get ready for the upcoming single-elimination conference tourney with the winner receiving the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"It's now a three-game season for us," said Brady. "We need to really concentrate and win the first one. I like where we are, we just need to get better."