JONESBORO, Ark. (11/27/16) – The Arkansas State men's basketball team built a 29-point second-half lead before holding off a late Lehigh run to claim a 97-89 victory over the Mountain Hawks Sunday afternoon at the Convocation Center.
The Red Wolves extended their winning streak to six games, improved their record to 6-1 on the season and remained undefeated at home with a 3-0 mark. Lehigh, which fell by just three points to No. 8 Xavier in its season opener and was coming off an 87-73 win over Mississippi State, saw it record move to 2-3 on the year.
A-State was led by a season-high five players scoring in double figures, including senior guard Devin Carter with 25 points that matched his season high. Junior guard Deven Simms came off the bench to score 19 points, while junior guard Rashad Lindsey added 11 and sophomore guard Connor Kern and junior forward Tamas Bruce finished with 10 each.
"What a great crowd and I was proud of our team for how we executed the game plan," A-State head men's basketball coach Grant McCasland said. "I thought we had two areas that had caused us problems and one was turnovers, but we had zero in the first half. The other thing was not fouling and not giving them a bunch of chances because they're such a good free throw shooting team, so I was proud of those two areas. The exciting part is that we beat a team that has a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament with some really good players and scheme. I'm proud of our team for finding a way to win and I'm excited about the fact that we are getting a lot better."
The game's first eight minutes saw six lead changes and two ties before Arkansas State, which didn't commit a single turnover in the first half, put together a 12-0 run to take a double-digit advantage it would hold until late in the second half.
The score was tied 15-15 with 12:09 left to play in the first half, but A-State outscored Lehigh 22-4 over the next six minutes to take a 37-19 advantage. The Red Wolves led 53-32 at the half and eventually went up 74-45 with 11:26 remaining.
The Mountain Hawks were able to cut their deficit back to 20 points, 88-68, at the 2:37 mark and then put together a 12-0 run in less than two minutes to make the score 88-80 with 47 seconds left in the contest. However, A-State made 9-of-11 free throw attempts down the stretch to seal the victory.
Arkansas State posted a .533 shooting percentage to Lehigh's .493 mark, although the Red Wolves held the Mountain Hawks to a 35.3 field goal percentage in the first half as it built a 21-point lead. Led by Carter with a career-high seven three-pointers, A-State shot 43.5 percent from beyond the arc.
The Red Wolves also limited a Lehigh team ranked sixth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage to just 27.6 percent. A-State was ranked fifth in three-point percentage defense entering the game as well.
Arkansas State was outscored in the paint and outrebounded, 38-31, for the first time since its season opener at North Dakota State. However, the Red Wolves committed four fewer turnovers, 8 to 12, and dished out seven more assists, led by senior guard Donte Thomas with a career-tying 11. Thomas also added four steals to match his career best.
Lehigh had four players score in double-digits, including Tim Kempton with 30 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. Jonesboro, Ark., native Kahron Ross added 21 points for the visiting Mountain Hawks.