JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Forward Kirk Van Slyke scored a season-high 23 points and guard Melvin Johnson III had 17 in leading five Arkansas State University men's basketball players in double figures as the Red Wolves notched a 99-56 non-conference home victory over Central Arkansas this Sunday (Nov. 24) afternoon at the A-State Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
Junior guard Rakeem Dickerson and sophomore forward Raeford Worsham each compiled 13 points and sophomore forward Kelvin Downs added 11 as the Red Wolves (3-2) forced 24 UCA turnovers along with holding the Bears to 21-of-60 shooting for 35 percent.
Van Slyke and Johnson III, a pair of first-year A-State seniors, both extended their double-figure scoring streak this season to five straight with those points totals. Van Slyke, who also hauled in a game-high tying nine rebounds, netted 15 of his 23 points in the first half while Johnson III scored all of his 17 points in the second frame within a four-minute plus span.
"We had a little better collection of players who defended really well and we wore them down in the first 15 minutes," said A-State head coach John Brady. "We were able to score off our defense and get control of the game. Our guys made a better commitment to defend and rebound.
This was a good game for us to beat this team (UCA) at home although we have room for improvement. Every player needs to recognize what they do and do it better. If we do as a whole, our team will get better," added Brady.
Arkansas State led from start to finish, jumping out to a 26-point 46-20 halftime lead as a result of shooting 50 percent (13-26) from the floor and making 17-of-19 at the free throw line for 89.5 percent. The Red Wolves' defense forced their instate foe into 17 turnovers and 33.3 percent (8-24) shooting efficiency in the first 20 minutes.
A-State came out in the second half and bumped its lead up to a 42-point margin at 67-25 just five minutes into the stanza as Johnson III and Van Slyke combined for 21 points in the period. Johnson III, who played 16 minutes in the contest, tallied nine straight points to key the A-State scoring spurt.
Along with the five A-State players in the double-figure scoring column, senior guard Ed Townsel recorded nine points, a game-best tying nine rebounds, and four assists. Sophomore guard Josh Pierre tossed in a career high seven points in the final four minutes to go with two rebounds and a steal.
A-State, which made 32-of-40 free throws for 80 percent in the game and hit on 30-of-61 from the field for a 49.2 percent clip, would finish with a 48-26 rebounding advantage. The Red Wolves would take almost full opportunity of UCA's 24 miscues in the contest, outscoring their opponent 32-4 in points off turnovers.
Freshman guard Lenelle Brown led Central Arkansas with 12 points off the bench, which included four three-point field goals. No other Bears player reached double digits in scoring.
The Red Wolves return to action Saturday, Nov. 30, on the road against the Lamar Cardinals. A 6 p.m. (CT) start is scheduled for the non-conference game at LU's Montagne Center in Beaumont, Texas. The contest can be heard live on the EAB Red Wolves Sports Radio Network as Randy Myers will call the action.