JONESBORO, AR (ASU) – Sean Gardner scored 28 points, while Anthony Livingston registered his first double-double of the season to help propel the Arkansas State men's basketball team to a 95-68 victory over Belhaven University Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
Gardner went 8-of-9 from beyond the arc to fall one three-pointer shy of tying the Convocation Center record and was 10-of-13 overall from the field to accumulate his 28 points. He made his first four attempts from three and also grabbed eight rebounds, second most on the team. Livingston turned in his fourth straight double-figure scoring game to open his A-State career with 19 points and pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double.
The Red Wolves (2-2) jumped out to a 15-point lead in the first half on two different occasions with the last coming at 38-23 after a Cameron Golden three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining. Belhaven (3-11) scored the final three points of the period as A-State took a 38-26 advantage to the locker room. Arkansas State outscored the Blazers 16-2 in the paint to help attain the halftime edge.
Belhaven managed to cut its deficit to seven at 40-33 early in the second period, but a Gardner three-pointer pushed A-State's lead back to double digits. The Blazers battled back within single digits at 52-43, but Golden responded with a three-pointer to put the Red Wolves back in front by 12 with just over 13 minutes remaining in the contest. Belhaven managed to cut A-State's edge to 11, but three Golden free throws put the score at 68-54 with just under nine minutes to go.
Arkansas State took control from that point on by using an 18-6 run, beginning with Golden's free throws, to obtain an 83-60 lead after an old-fashioned three-point play by Kelvin Downs. The Red Wolves ended the game on a 12-8 run, capped by a Charles Waters dunk and Daijon Macklien three-pointer, to set the final score at 95-68.
“We shot the ball well and scored it pretty good, but defensively we still need to get better,” A-State head coach John Brady said. “I was determined to play man-to-man, guard smaller guys, get out and cover to see if we could make them miss a little bit, but they made enough baskets to make it somewhat interesting. I think our talent level is good enough, but we've got to have a better mentality and approach to what we're doing, particularly defensively.”
Golden also scored in double digits with 18 of his own to give A-State its fourth straight game to open the season with at least three players in double-figure points. PJ Hardwick ran the offense efficiently as he dished out nine assists to just three turnovers and also chipped in with six rebounds and five points.
The Red Wolves shot 50 percent (34-of-68) on the night with a 48.1 percent mark from behind the arc and a 93.3 percent effort from the charity stripe. A-State outscored the Blazers in the paint 36-14 and won the battle on the boards by a count of 47-24.
A-State returns to the hardwood Wednesday, Dec. 10, in West Lafayette, Ind., against the Purdue Boilermakers. A 6 p.m. (CT) tipoff is scheduled for the game and fans can keep up with the action by following @AStateGameDay on Twitter.