JONESBORO, AR (astateredwolves.com) – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team dropped its first Sun Belt Conference game of the season Saturday night at the Convocation Center, falling 86-72 in a contest Appalachian State led from start to finish.
The Red Wolves had a five-game winning streak snapped, moving their overall record to 8-8 and league mark to 4-1. The Mountaineers now stand 4-13 on the season and 2-4 against Sun Belt opponents.
A-State forward Anthony Livingston tied his season high with 29 points and the squad benefited from a 20-point performance by guard Devin Carter, but Appalachian State countered with 31 points by guard Frank Eaves and a bench that outscored the Red Wolves’ reserves 26-2.
“I didn’t do a good enough job of getting our team ready to play,” A-State head coach John Brady said. “We weren’t very good defensively. When we did stop them, we didn’t complete the possession by keeping them off the boards. That’s my responsibility; I didn’t get us ready to play like we should have.”
The Mountaineers scored the first 13 points and grabbed a 24-3 lead, their largest of the game, nine minutes into the contest. The Red Wolves were able to connect on only one of their first 18 shots, while Appalachian State was 10-of-15 from the field during the early run by the Mountaineers.
Still trailing by 20 points with 6:36 left in the opening half, Arkansas State was able to put together a 16-6 run over the next four minutes to pull within 40-30. However, the Mountaineers responded by scoring the final seven points of the first half to take a 47-30 lead into the break.
A-State slowly chipped away at the Mountaineers lead in the second half to get back within 12 points on two different occasions. A layup by A-State guard Sean Gardner with 12:07 left in the first half made the score 62-50, but the Red Wolves couldn’t get any closer.
While the Red Wolves, who outscored the Mountaineers 42-39 in the second half, finished with a .368 field goal percentage, they actually shot 47 percent after their 1-of-18 start. The Mountaineers cooled off in the second half after posting a 48.6 shooting percentage during the initial 20 minutes of action, but still ended the game at .420.
A-State committed just 10 turnovers to Appalachian State’s 16, but the Mountaineers controlled the boards. App State ended with a 52-39 rebounding average and posted 19 second-chance points.
Arkansas State returns to action Monday, Jan. 18, with a 7 p.m. game against Little Rock at the Convocation Center.