BEAUMONT, TX (ASU) – Senior Melvin Johnson III made his first eight three-point field goals and finished with a season-high 26 points to lead the Arkansas State University men's basketball team to a 95-89 victory over Lamar this Saturday (Nov. 30) at LU's Montagne Center in Beaumont, Texas.
Johnson III, who came into the non-conference contest as A-State's top scorer with a team-high 18 triples in five outings this season, knocked down all of his three treys in the first half and then hit five more within the second half's first eight minutes to tie a Lamar arena record. His eight three's in the contest were one shy of matching the A-State single-game mark of nine held by three former Red Wolves.
The Red Wolves won their second consecutive game in improving to 4-2 overall while Lamar suffers its fourth loss in a row and falls to 1-7 on the season.
"Offensively it was really pretty for us but how we won doesn't sit right with me," said A-State head coach John Brady. "The only issue I have is we're inconsistent defensively. Until we make a commitment to really guard and defend consistently, we're not going to be the team we want to be and have a lot of success. We just can't continue to rely on outscoring people every time out."
Johnson III was the game's high scorer and went 8-9 from three-point range as all five A-State starters tallied double-digit points. Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke scored 13 points and hauled in a game-best tying nine rebounds while seniorforward Kendrick Washington netted 12 and also pulled down nine boards. Senior guard Ed Townsel pumped in 11 points and senior guard Brandon Reed added 10 points despite the Red Wolves shooting 56.9 percent (33-58) from the floor. A-State, which would post a 31-25 rebounding edge, made 50 percent (13-26) in three-point attempts but was 16-for-28 at the free throw line for 57.1 percent efficiency.
The Red Wolves held a 47-43 lead following the first half before coming out in the second 20 minutes to outscore the host Cardinals 25-8 in over a seven-minute period to lead 72-51 with 12:18 remaining as Johnson III drained five treys. A-State would maintain its double-digit lead until just over a minute to go as Lamar closed to within 88-79 and then made another short run to cut the Red Wolves' margin to six at 92-86 with 17 seconds left in the game. The hosts would get no closer as A-State three of its final four charity stripes to seal the victory.
Lamar's Amos Wilson lead the way for the Cardinals with 20 points. Rhon Mitchell and Nimrod Hilliard contributed 17 points each as the hosts made 35-of-56 from the field for 62.5 percent.
Arkansas State is back in action this Monday (Dec. 2) night as the Red Wolves face the Niagara Purple Eagles at the A-State Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. Tipoff is at 7:05 p.m. (CT) and tickets may be purchased through the A-State Central Box Office by calling 1-888-ASU-FANS or by ordering online at www.astate.edu/tickets.
Arkansas State men's basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach John Brady (@JohnBrady_Coach) and the program's official Twitter account (@RedWolvesHoops) to get insider news, information, and team updates. The Red Wolves are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RedWolvesMBB.