Another Norchad Omier double-double on Friday night at Hartsell Arena propelled Arkansas State men’s basketball to a 62-58 victory in the 1st round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
The freshman phenom scored 10 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for his 14th double-double of the season as the Red Wolves (11-12) recorded their first win in conference tournament play with the triumph over the Eagles (13-13). Malcolm Farrington was strong off the bench, scoring a game-high 16 points, with 12 coming from three-point range.
A-State shot 40.4 percent (23-57) from the floor, 37.5 percent (6-16) from beyond the arc while holding Georgia Southern to just 16.7 percent (3-18) from deep. Marquis Eaton notched 14 points, five rebounds and four assists while Caleb Fields added nine points and four dimes.
The game was back-and-forth early, before A-State reeled off a 16-5 run to lead by 11 after a three by Felts. Georgia Southern closed it to within two scores with less than four minutes left in the half, but Omier closed out the Red Wolves’ first-half scoring with a monstrous slam after stealing an inbounds pass on the other end of the floor.
Georgia Southern took a one-point lead early in the second half on a layup by Gedi Juozapaitis, but a 10-2 A-State run wiped out that advantage and made it 45-38 with 12:20 to go. The Eagles tied things at 47-all at the 9:31 mark on a layup by Elijah McCadden, however a 7-0 scoring run that featured a trey by Fields and thunderous two-handed slam by Omier made it 54-47 with 6:04 remaining.
The Eagles’ last surge came in the last five minutes, as A-State went on a scoring drought that lasted over five minutes and clung to a one-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go. That lead would not be relinquished, as free throws by Christian Willis, Markise Davis and Eaton closed things out.
A-State advances to the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, taking on Georgia State, the top seed from the East Division. Tipoff from the Pensacola Bay Center is slated for 5:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and the radio broadcast can be heard on 107.9 KFIN.