ASU pushes for fan support during rivalry week
Photo Courtesy: ASU Athletics
JONESBORO, Ark. (ASU) - The Arkansas State University men's basketball team overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to force overtime against North Texas before defeating the Mean Green 75-66 in a thrilling Sun Belt Conference (SBC) contest this Saturday (Feb. 2) night at the ASU Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark.
The Red Wolves trailed 41-30 with just under 16 minutes to play before outscoring the Norht Texas 29-18 down the stretch, capped by freshman guard Cameron Golden's off-balance ljumper from three-point territory with four seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 59 and send the game into overtime.
Arkansas State would never fall behind in overtime as the Red Wolves would go on to outscore North Texas 16-7 in the extra session.
"This was a good win for our team, a fun game to watch, and a tough game to coach in," said ASU head coach John Brady. "The key thing for us was the resilency and toughness showed by our guys as we found a way to hang in there and win the game. We needed this game.
"We made more difficult shots than easier ones. In the overtime, we made some really good defensive stops and did the things we needed to," added Brady.
Cameron Golden led four Red Wolves in the double-figure scoring column with a game-high tying 18 points, which included four triples. Junior guard Ed Townsel scored 15 points while senior guard Trey Finn had 14 and junior forward Kendrick Washington supplied 10 off the bench.
Finn logged a season-high 42 minutes while Townsel played 41 minutes for the A-State, which connected on 34.4% (22-64) of its shots for the game. Senior forward Brandon Peterson went scoreless in 31 minutes of action, but managed to grab a game-leading 14 rebounds.
Jordan Williams led North Texas with 18 points and eight rebounds. Tony Mitchell had 14 points and nine rebounds and Roger Franklin chipped in with seven points and 10 rebounds for the Mean Green, who are 8-16 overall and 3-10 in the SBC West Division.
Trailing 36-28 at halftime, ASU got within two points 45-43 with 8:14 to go on a pair of Trey Finn free throws before a five straight points by North Texas gave the visitors a 50-43 advantage just under the seven-minute mark. The Red Wolves buckled down and cut the margin to four points on three different occasions, including with 43 seconds to go in regulation.
North Texas matched a successful A-State free throw with one of its own a second later, but from there the Red Wolves accounted for six of the regulation's final seven points. Sophomore guard Rakeem Dickerson drilled a three-pointer from above the key with 13.7 seconds left for ASU after the Red Wolves collected an offensive rebound on five consecutive misses from beyond the arc. Down by three (59-56) with 12.5 seconds to go, Cameron Golden took the inbounds and dribbled into the ASU forecourt before firing a three off of Brandon Peterson screen which found the bottom of the net. ASU had a chance to win in regulation as Trey Finn stole the ball in UNT's backcourt but missed a short jumper as time expired.
Once in overtime, the game remained deadlocked at 59-all until the 3:28 mark when Cameron Golden converted a three-point play on a goaltending call and a made free throw to set the tone. The Red Wolves proceeded to go on an 8-1 spurt in a two-minute span to increase their lead by nine points at 69-60 with 1:37 left as Trey Finn knocked down a three ball just as the shot clock expired. ASU knocked down five free throws while the Mean Green misfired on their final three shots in the final minute to seal the victory.
With the victory, Arkansas State improved to 14-8 overall and 8-5 in the Sun Belt as the Red Wolves moved into a first-place tie in the conference's West Division. The win not only signified the Red Wolves' 11th home decision of this season, but equaled last season's total victory output (14-20 record) as well.
A-State is on the road next week in conference action, starting with a matchup against the Sun Belt Conference East Division leader Middle Tennessee on Thursday, Feb. 7, at MTSU's Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The conference matchup with the Blue Raiders, which is slated to get underway at 7 p.m. (CT), will be televised live on ESPN 3.