JONESBORO, Ark. (11/16/12) – The Arkansas State University men’s basketball team had the will to win and found a way to do so albeit three overtimes in a thrilling 77-73 victory over Tennessee at Martin this Friday (Nov. 16) evening at UTM’s Elam Center in Martin, Tenn.
The Red Wolves, who improve to 2-1 on the season, were on the verge of suffering their second setback of the campaign in the first overtime but junior guard Ed Townsel banked an off-balance shot from about 25 feet in front of the ASU bench for a three with 2.2 seconds left to send the game into a second extra session.
UTM had an opportunity to win the game in the second overtime but Bobby Jones missed a layup with six ticks left on the clock. His teammate, Myles Taylor rebounded the ball and was stripped off the ball while going up for a shot by senior guard Marcus Hooten with four seconds left to add another five-minute session.
In the third and what proved the final overtime, ASU snapped a 68-all tie with about four minutes remaining as the Red Wolves scored four unanswered points, including the last two on a pair of Townsel free throws. A three-pointer by UTM’s Mike Liabo cut ASU’s lead to one at 72-71 with 1:30 left in the frame, but Marcus Hooten canned a three 15 seconds later to give the Red Wolves a 75-71 lead. Mike Liabo would hit a layup for UTM with four seconds on the clock to make it 75-73 and then ASU's Ed Townsel converted both free throws in a double-bonus situation to preserve the win.
The Red Wolves, who led 32-28 at the half, were involved in a tight second half struggle with UT-Martin and had to overcome the loss of junior forward Kendrick Washington, who fouled out with 14:02 left in regulation. Though the first 40 minutes of play, the contest featured 12 ties and 13 lead changes. ASU would let a four-point lead (57-53) at the 1:38 mark evaporate as the Skyhawks’ Jeremy Washington, who would total 11 rebounds with eight points, hit a shot from just inside the three-point line on the right elbow as the final buzzer was about to sound.
“We did win the game which is important and any win is a good one although it wasn’t pretty,” said ASU head coach John Brady. “Tonight was a struggle for us and we were fortunate to come away with a win. To our credit, it will make the bus ride home better but we still have a long ways to go and we need to take it step-by-step.
“Offensively we were out of sync offensively the whole night. Ed Townsel hit a big shot for us and we found a way to grind out the win,” added Brady.
Ed Townsel, who hit the game-tying three-point in the second overtime, finished the night with 19 points to lead A-State. Senior forward Brandon Peterson tossed in 13 points and hauled down seven rebounds while senior guard Trey Finn added 12 points along with six boards. A pair of freshmen, guard Raeford “Gator” Worsham and forward Kelvin Downs provided a spark off the bench with six points apiece. Worsham shot three-of-five from the floor and also grabbed five rebounds despite the Red Wolves being outrebounded 58-40.
Justin Childs’ 21 points led UT-Martin, which also received a double-double from Myles Taylor with an 18-point, 11-rebound performance.
ASU made 36 percent of its shots by going 25-of-69 while UT-Martin, which falls to 1-3 overall this season, was successful 34 percent (24-71) of the time. The Skyhawks connected on 95 percent (18-19) at the free throw line while the Red Wolves were at 66 percent (19-29) from the stripe. A-State tallied 29 percent (8-28) from beyond the arc and the Skyhawks were at 25 percent (7-28).
Arkansas State continues non-league road action next week as the Red Wolves visit the Central Arkansas Bears on Wednesday, Nov. 21, in Conway, Ark. The contest is slated for for a 7 p.m. (CT) start and can be heard live on the EAB Sports Network with Matt Stolz calling the action.
A-StAte Notes: The last time ASU played in a triple overtime game was in 2008-09 when the Red Wolves dropped an 86-83 conference decision at North Texas ... Ed Townsel has now scored double figures in all of A-State's three contests to date with 19 points at UT-Martin after recording 14 points each at Dayton (11/10) and vs. Arkansas-Monticello (11/13) ... ASU's bench outscored UT-Martin's by 13 points (31-18) ... The ASU-UTM contest featured 15 ties and 17 lead changes ... First-year players Raeford Worsham and Kelvin Downs combined to shoot 62.5% (5-8) from the floor with 12 points and seven rebounds in 40 minutes of action off the bench ... Trey Finn's four steals at UT-Martin was a season high and moves the backcourt player within five more of tying Bo Brown (1987-89; 130 career) for sixth place on the A-State's all-time steals leaders list ... Brandon Peterson played all 55 minutes surpassing his previous game-high 39 minutes at Lamar last season (11/11/11).