MOBILE, Ala. (A-STATE) – Devin Carter hit a 3-pointer with 29 seconds remaining to tie the game, but Ken Williams converted a leaning 3-pointer at the top of the key in the final second to defeat Arkansas State 73-70 Saturday at the Mitchell Center.
The Red Wolves finish the regular season at 20-11 with an 11-7 mark in conference play. The win improved the Jaguars regular season record to 14-17 and 7-11 in league action. A-State heads to New Orleans for the conference tournament as the No. 5 seed and will face No. 12 seed ULM Wednesday at 2 p.m.
Carter’s 3-pointer with 29 seconds left was one of seven makes on the night as he posted 25 points to lead the Red Wolves. Deven Simms was the only other player for A-State in double figures with 13 points. Williams matched Carter with a game-high 25 points and South Alabama had three others finish in double figures.
A-State shot 51 percent (23-45) from the field and 50 percent (7-14) beyond the arc. Carter accounted for all seven makes for A-State with the rest of the team going 0-for-6. The Jaguars 46 percent (25-55) overall, but 53 percent (9-17) from 3-point range, including 5-of-7 (71 percent) in the second half.
The Red Wolves finished with a 33-27 edge on the glass, but 11 offensive rebounds for the Jaguars led to a 16-8 edge in second chance points for South Alabama. A-State was 17-for-26 (65 percent) at the charity stripe, but South Alabama finished at 70 percent (14-20).
How It Happened (First Half):
Devin Carter and Deven Simms combined for 21 of 37 points for A-State and the Red Wolves held a 37-35 lead at the break. Neither team was able to lead by more than five points in the half the first period had seven ties along with six lead changes.
The Red Wolves largest lead of the first half came early as A-State scored the first four points of the game. South Alabama was able to knot the score at 6-6 and then build a five-point advantage, 28-23, with 12:29 left in the half.
The Red Wolves outscored South Alabama 14-7 the remainder of the half, capped by a Carter 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer. The 3-pointer was one of three in the half to tie him for the single-season record with 97 made.
Carter accounted for the only 3-pointers in the first half, A-State finished 3-for-7 (42.9 percent) from long range and 54 percent (13-24) from the field. The Red Wolves knocked down 8-of-10 (80 percent) at the charity stripe. South Alabama was 44 percent (14-32) from the floor and 4-for-10 (40 percent) beyond the arc.
How It Happed (Second Half):
The Red Wolves outscored South Alabama 13-5 to open the second half and eventually built a 12-point advantage, 58-46, with 13:46 left. Carter knocked down three 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second half to reach 100 on the season, but more importantly open the game up for A-State.
South Alabama refused to go away, using a 16-2 run over 6:02 to take a 62-60 lead with 7:12 to play. The Red Wolves scored six-straight after the Jaguars gained the lead, but the Jaguars were able to pull out the win.
With the game knotted at 66 all with 1:39 to play, South Alabama took a 68-66 lead with a dunk. Tamas Bruce split a pair of free throws to get A-State within one, 68-67, with 1:11 to play, but two free throws by Williams made it 70-67 with 37 seconds left.
A-State looked to Carter to tie the game and he came up clutch by draining a 3-pointer at the top of the key with 29 seconds left. With the game knotted at 70, South Alabama elected to play for the final shot and the move paid off. Williams was guarded closely by Donte Thomas, but Williams leaned into the 3-point attempt that went through to set the final score.
With seven 3-pointers in the game, Devin Carter finished the regular season with 101 on the year. He needed just four of those to break the single-season record that was held by Adrian Banks (2006-07).
With eight assists, Donte Thomas finishes regular season with 175 on the regular season. That total is the fifth-most in single-season program history.
A-State finishes the regular season with 20 wins, tied for most in program history.
Quoting Coach McCasland:
“One hundred percent, this was on me. I needed to do a better job down the stretch of just making sure we were composed. Give those guys credit though. What an awesome game for Ken Williams to go get 25 on senior night and then hit the game winner. He’s been here all four years and he’s done an outstanding job. He hit a big shot down the stretch.
I was proud of Devin Carter tonight. He hit a big shot to tie the game there late. We had a few possessions down the stretch where we didn’t execute very well and that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job with this team at the end of the game of making sure that we get good looks.
We’ve got a team that has responded well all year long when we’ve needed too. We’re excited to move on to the Sun Belt Conference Tournament and we will use this game as a tool to get better. That’s the way we’ll approach this. Our focus is on being prepared to win on Wednesday now. I was proud of our team tonight and thought we played fantastic on the offensive end. We turned the ball over a few too many times, especially when we needed better shots there down the stretch, but as I said that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job as a coach of making sure our team is executing and this will be a good teaching moment as we get ready to play on Wednesday.”
The Red Wolves begin play in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The complete bracket will be announced Saturday night. Stay tuned to AStateRedWolves.com and @AStateMB on Twitter for the latest information.