JONESBORO, Ark. (AStateRedWolves.com) – Arkansas State University came into this Tuesday's (Dec. 17) home contest against undefeated Toledo hoping to do what the previous nine opponents couldn't, but was unable to sustain its halftime lead in falling 78-65 to the Rockets in non-league competition at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
Senior forward Kirk Van Slyke's 22 points was a game high for the 5-4 Red Wolves, who also received 11 points from sophomore guard Cameron Golden in a starting role and 10 from senior forward Kendrick Washington.
Toledo, which upped its record to 10-0 overall on the season, was paced by Justin Drummond's 19 points on 8-11 shooting. Nathan Boothe added 14 points and two other Rockets' starters scored in double figures as Rian Pearson had 11 and J.D. Weatherspoon chipped in with 10 points.
"They were tougher, consistently better and more efficient than we are," said A-State head coach John Brady. "They out toughed us on the boards and outplayed us when they needed to, which we didn't respond like we have to. They (Toledo) exposed what we aren't and need to be.
"Our team has a ways to go and we haven't put together a 40-minute game yet this season. I told our guys if you want to win the (Sun Belt) conference then you have to beat a team like Toledo," Brady added.
Arkansas State went 26-57 (45.65) from the field, 9-24 (37.5%) from behind the three-point arc, but had only six free throw attempts making good on four of them for 66.7 percent. Toledo shot 46.8 percent (29-62) from the floor and was 19-of-23 (82.6%) at the foul line as the Rockets outmuscled the Red Wolves on the boards, 44-25, including 15 alone on the offensive glass. UT controlled the paint, putting up 46 points while A-State garnered 24 points in the post area.
Both teams kept the margin close throughout the first 20 minutes with the score tied twice and the lead only exchanging hands on one occasion at the 13:22 mark as senior guard Ed Townsel knocked down a three-pointer to give A-State a 16-15 edge. The hosts would maintain their slim margin over the Rockets for about the next 11 minutes before a three-point field goal by UT's Matt Smith knotted the game up at 37-apiece with 2:29 left in the stanza. However, another Ed Townsel trey gave A-State the lead back as the Red Wolves would claim a 44-40 advantage at intermission. In the first half, both teams shot over 50 percent with A-State connecting on 52.9 percent (18-34) and Toledo hitting at a 51.6 percent (16-31) clip.
Toledo came out to start the second half and scored eight straight in about two minutes to regain the lead at 50-46 less than three minutes in. The visitors would lead the rest of the way and built their lead into double digits with 8:19 left to be played before building up a 16-point advantage at 74-58 near the five-minute mark as the Red Wolves would draw within 11 points (76-65) with 2:03 to go, but would get no closer as the clock ran out.
On the boards, Kirk Van Slyke pulled down six caroms to lead the Red Wolves while Cameron Golden dished out a career-high seven assists and posted two steals, which tied a team high.
Arkansas State returns to action this Saturday, Dec. 21, as the Red Wolves visit the Marshall Thundering Herd in Huntington, W.Va. Tip-off is slated for 6 p.m. (CT) at MU's Cam Henderson Center in what will represent the second-ever matchup between the two schools.