Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – Junior forward Tamas Bruce recorded his first career double-double and senior guard Devin Carter scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to a 76-45 Sun Belt Conference victory over Louisiana-Monroe Monday night at the Convocation Center.
A-State improved its overall record to 10-4 and is off to a 2-0 start in Sun Belt play for the ninth time in 26 seasons as a member of the league. The Red Wolves also now hold a 12-0 all-time record against ULM (6-9, 0-2) at the Convocation Center.
Bruce was responsible for 19 points and 15 rebounds, both career highs, helping the Red Wolves post their largest margin of victory over a Sun Belt opponent since defeating the Warhawks 87-54 during the 2012-13 season. Donte Thomas scored 12 points to join Bruce and Carter in double figures for the Red Wolves.
“The first half, we struggled to get the ball through the hoop, but I felt like our energy was pretty good,” said A-State head coach Grant McCasland. “We did a decent job of guarding them, but in the second half you saw a light switch come on for our team in regards to consistent effort all about getting stops defensively and making simple plays offensively. We had some great execution plays offensively early in the second half that kind of opened it up offensively.”
“There’s three guys I’m super proud of tonight with one of them being Tamas Bruce who just had a huge second half. Tamas gave us defensive rebounds and tough plays while scoring the basketball. C.J. Foster made four or five extra effort plays that made a difference in us getting second shots when we missed. Donte Thomas attacked the rim and was tremendous. It was fun to see three guys (Tamas Bruce, C.J. Foster and Rashad Lindsey) get career highs in rebounds tonight. We challenged Rashad to rebound tonight and he came through after what we went through on Saturday. Good team win with a great crowd and a fun atmosphere.”
A-State improved its shooting percentage from 33.3 percent in the first half to 56.3 in the second as the Red Wolves outscored the Warhawks 44-19 after taking just a six-point lead into the break. Arkansas State also limited ULM to a 31.6 field goal percentage over the final 20 minutes, almost 10 percent lower than the Warhawks’ first-half mark.
The Red Wolves scored the initial eight points to start the second half, claiming their first double-digit lead of the game at 40-26. ULM managed to cut its deficit back to nine points, 50-41, with almost 13 minutes left in the game, but A-State outscored the Warhawks 26-4 the rest of the way, holding ULM without a field goal the final 10:11.
Arkansas State finished the game with a .458 field goal percentage in comparison to ULM’s .316, while also outrebounding the Warhawks 48-32. The Red Wolves also committed just eight turnovers, matching their lowest total of the season previously recorded against Lehigh.
A-State guards Rashad Lindsey, C.J. Foster and Thomas also approached a double-double. Lindsey finished the game with nine points and career-high eight rebounds, Foster posted seven points to go along with a career-high 10 rebounds, and Thomas dished out a game-high nine assists. ULM was led by Travis Munnings with a team-high 19 points.
The Red Wolves jumped out to an 8-0 advantage and never trailed during the game. The closest ULM got to A-State’s lead was two points on two different occasions in the first half, the last being 28-26 with 1:08 left before halftime. A-State responded by scoring the next four points to take a 32-26 advantage into the locker room.
Arkansas State is now set to begin a three-game road swing, starting Saturday, Jan. 7, with a 3:30 p.m. (CT) game at Coastal Carolina.