FARGO, N.D. (11/11/2016) – Arkansas State rallied to within five points late in the second half, but North Dakota State came away with a 76-66 victory over the Red Wolves in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
North Dakota State (1-0) converted 29-of-42 (69 percent) at the charity stripe while A-State was 11-of-15 (73 percent) on the night. The second half featured the Bison going 18-of-28 at the line while the Red Wolves were 4-of-6. A-State (0-1) held North Dakota State to 1-for-11 (9.1 percent) from three-point range, but the Bison outscored A-State in the paint 40-32. The Red Wolves shot 44 percent (25-57) from the field and 5-of-16 (31.3 percent) from beyond the arc.
A-State was led by senior Devin Carter who finished with 15 points while seven other players had five or more points. Senior Donte Thomas had 10 assists, one more than NDSU had on the game, and joined junior Rahsad Lindsey with a team-high six rebounds. Three players scored in double figures for the Bison led by 24 points from Paul Miller.
“We had good momentum early and we played the way we wanted to play early putting them on their heels,” said A-State head coach Grant McCasland. “When we get that many guys in foul trouble, it got us in a bad place with who we wanted on the floor matchup wise. They drove the ball, but we did a good job guarding them from the three-point line. You have to give that team credit because you can tell they are a tough, competitive and mature team.”
After trailing 40-34 at the break, A-State used a 10-4 run in the first 4:37 of the second half to knot the score at 44-44. Junior forward Tamas Bruce, who finished with eight points, scored six points during the run with Thomas feeding him in the post.
The Red Wolves had three chances to take the lead, but a missed layup and two turnovers coupled with four fouls over the next 2:16 helped the Bison take the lead. Tyson Ward hit 1-of-2 at the free throw line after a foul was called in the paint giving the Bison a 45-44 advantage. Bruce grabbed the board and guard Rashad Lindsey hit a jumper on the other end to make it 46-45 A-State with 12:39 left. The Bison answered with a jumper, but freshman Jahmiah Simmons fought for an offensive rebound and put back with a foul to give A-State the lead back.
After a missed free throw on the and-one, North Dakota State went on a 19-0 run to hold a 66-48 advantage with 3:28 left. The run spanned 6:45 and the Bison were 6-of-7 from the field and 7-of-10 at the charity stripe while A-State was 1-for-10 from the floor.
The Red Wolves faced an 18-point deficit with 3:28 left, but wouldn’t go away using a 14-1 run over 2:17. Junior Andrew Riley sparked the rally with a three-pointer and junior C.J. Foster followed with a jumper. The Bison split a pair of free throws and A-State cashed in as Carter scored the next seven points to make it 67-60 with 1:24 on the clock. Thomas drove the lane for a layup with 1:11 on the clock, but a foul and two free throw makes stretched the Bison lead to 69-62 with 1:01 remaining.
Thomas drove to the rim on the next possession and was fouled, making both shots to make it a five point deficit, 69-64, with 58 seconds left. Over the final minute, North Dakota State was 7-of-10 at the line to close out the 10-point margin.
The Bison scored the first basket of the game after taking the opening tip, but Rashad Lindsey answered with a trey on the other end to give A-State an early lead. North Dakota State took an 8-5 advantage with 16:10 left in the half, but the Red Wolves briefly took command.
A-State used a 13-0 run over the next 2:44 to grab an 18-8 lead. Simmons came off the bench and immediately made an impact as he drove the baseline and threw down a slam to aid the run. The Bison took a timeout with A-State leading 18-8 and the Red Wolves later led 26-16, but North Dakota State closed the final seven plus minutes of the first half on a 24-8 run to lead 40-34.
“I was proud of the way we started and proud of the way we responded,” McCasland added. “I love this team and we are going to be good. I love our potential, but we have to keep the guys we want on the floor. Our three forward played 37 minutes and had 15 fouls. Part of that is on me to make sure we don’t get into foul trouble, but we have to continue to improve. We will learn from this and I’m excited about us getting better.”
The home opener for A-State men’s basketball is Monday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m. against Central Baptist College. For the latest on the A-State men’s basketball team, log onto the team’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/AStateMB or follow the team on Twitter or Instagram at @AStateMB.
· Devin Carter led the team in scoring for the 15th time in his career. He has scored in double figures in 28 of his 32 games with the Red Wolves.
· Donte Thomas had a game-high 10 assists, his fourth career game with 10 or more assists. Thomas last posted 10 assists against Little Rock on January 18 last season.
· The Red Wolves fell to 43-46 all-time in season openers with the loss.
· A-State is now 4-14 all-time in season opening games on the road.
· Friday’s game marked the 15th time in the last 26 season openers that the game was decided by 10 or fewer points.