Jonesboro, AR (A-State) – Arkansas State had four players score in double figures, and senior forward Tamas Bruce posted a double-double to lead the Red Wolves to a 91-89 victory over Georgia Southern Saturday night in a Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball game at First National Bank Arena.
The Red Wolves, winners in three of their last five games, improved to 9-15 overall and 4-7 in league play. Georgia Southern saw its overall record move to 16-8, while its Sun Belt mark now stands at 7-4.
Bruce hauled down a season-high 14 rebounds and scored 10 points to collect his second double-double this year. Senior guard Deven Simms scored a team-high 24 points and was followed by senior guard Rashad Lindsey with season-high tying 18 and junior guard Ty Cockfield with 12.
Both teams shot 48 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc, but the Red Wolves made 30 free throws to the Eagles’ 21 in a contest that included 61 combined fouls and 11 players charged with at least four.
Although A-State recorded 38 rebounds to tie its second most this season, Georgia Southern edged the Red Wolves on the boards, 39-38. The two squads also posted identical totals for assists (8), turnovers (9) and blocks (4).
How It Happened (First Half):
The first half ended with the Eagles holding a narrow 37-36 advantage after four ties and eight lead changes. The visitors went up by seven points early and remained in front 17-10, their largest lead of the game, just over midway through the first half.
A-State went on a 10-0 run at that point to take their first lead at 20-17 with 7:50 remaining. Neither team led by more than four points the rest of the period.
How It Happened (Second Half):
Arkansas State, which never trailed in the second half, opened the second 20 minutes by scoring eight of the first 10 points to take a 44-39 lead. With the score tied 51-51 at the 14:58 mark, the Red Wolves went on a 12-3 run over the next three minutes to take their largest advantage of the night at 65-56.
Georgia Southern, however, chipped away at A-State’s lead to eventually force the game’s ninth tie at 85-85 with 2:06 left on the clock. Four unanswered free throws by A-State would give it the lead back for good, although a pair of shots at the charity stripe by the Eagles pulled them back within 89-87 with 24 second remaining.
Two more Georgia Southern free throws with three second left made the score 90-89 with just three seconds to go, but a final Cockfield make at the line, followed by a desperation heave from by the Eagles beyond half court, set the final score.
Quoting Coach Balado:
“This was an awesome win. This was a typical Sun Belt battle in February. Georgia Southern is so good and their guards are good and Mark (Byington) does such a great job with that team to have them as one of the top teams in the league. I was proud of our guys tonight because we were resilient in every area. If you look at the stats, the game is almost identical except for we shot 44 free throws and held them to 33 percent from three while we shot 47 percent. I was really happy with everybody that played tonight. Everybody gave us something tonight.”
Arkansas State is set to play a two-game road swing next week, starting with a Thursday, Feb. 8, outing at Troy at 7:15 p.m. The Red Wolves will face South Alabama two days later on Saturday, Feb. 10, at 3:05 p.m.