ASU beats Niagara for 3rd straight victory

JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – The Arkansas State University men's basketball team won its third game in a row with an 86-61 decision over the visiting Niagara Purple Eagles this Monday (Dec. 2) night at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.

Senior forward Kendrick Washington scored a team-high 16 points and had a career game-best six assists to lead a balanced A-State scoring attack which saw the Red Wolves get 15 points from senior guard Brandon Reed and a 14-point performance off the bench by sophomore Raeford Worsham.  Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke and senior guard Ed Townsel added nine points for Arkansas State, which improves to 5-2 on the season.  Senior guard Melvin Johnson III pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds to pace A-State, which also received eight boards from Washington as the hosts outrebounded Niagara by a 48-36 count.

"I was proud of our team on the improvement we showed at the defensive end andthis was our best game defensively for 40 minutes this season," said A-State head coach John Brady.  "We were active on the defensive side and they (Niagara) didn't get easy baskets.

"We rebounded the ball pretty well too.  We're improving in those areas the last couple of times out.  Overall, I was pleased with our effort," added Brady.

The suffocating Arkansas State defense held the nation's leading scorer in junior guard Antoine Mason to 20 points in the game, including only seven in the second half.  Mason came into the contest averaging 31.6 points per game, but made 6-17 from the floor and turned theball over a team-high six times.  As a team, A-State limited Niagara to 20-for-63 (31.7%) shooting from the field and forced the Purple Eagles into 18 turnovers.  Marvin Jordan was the only other NU player to tally double figures with 14 points, which included four three-pointers.

Following a 35-26 halftime lead, A-State held onto to its double-digit lead halfway through the second half before Niagara cut a 16-point (53-37) Red Wolves' lead down to nine at 60-51 with 8:54 to be played.  From there, A-State went on a 13-1 tear over the next five minutes capped by a Raeford Worsham layup to go up by 21 points (73-52) at the 3:06juncture.  The Red Wolves pushed their advantage to as much as 26 points within in the final half minute to record the victory in what marked the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

The Red Wolves scored 30 of its 86 points in the paint and finished with a 43.5field goal percentage (27-62).  The hosts were efficient at the free throw line, knocking down 26-of-32 for an 81.3 percent success rate.  A-State's bench outscored Niagara by 17 points (30-13) and the Red Wolves chalked up 22 points off the opposition turnovers.

A-State is now idle until Saturday, Dec. 14, when the Red Wolves visit Nebraska in a 3 p.m. (CT) contest at UN's Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.  The non-league matchup will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

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