MOBILE, Ala. (2/10/18) – Arkansas State shot 24 percent in the first half and couldn’t recover in an 87-67 loss Saturday afternoon at South Alabama.
A-State (9-17, 4-9 SBC) opened the game 2-of-14 from the field and faced a 17-point halftime deficit. South Alabama (13-12, 6-6 SBC) increased the lead to as many as 31 points midway through the second half, but A-State refused to quit down the stretch and was outscored just 48-45 in the frame.
Tamas Bruce led the Red Wolves with 13 points and seven rebounds. He was joined in double figures by Rashad Lindsey (12), Connor Kern (11) and Grantham Gillard (10). Rodrick Sikes led all scorers with 32 points and Josh Ajayi added 21 points for South Alabama.
A-State closed the afternoon shooting 35 percent (21-60) from the field, but struggled from downtown hitting just 4-of-20 (20 percent). South Alabama shot 52.5 percent (32-61) overall and connected on 40 percent (10-25) from 3-point range.
South Alabama owned a 41-34 edge on the glass and outscored the Red Wolves 15-5 in second chance points. The Red Wolves had a 20-16 advantage on the fast break, but were outscored 14-8 off turnovers.
How It Happened (First Half):
South Alabama outscored the Red Wolves 11-2 from the jump and A-State struggled to recover. The Red Wolves opened the game hitting 1-of-9 from the field and made just 2-of-14 in the first nine minutes.
Trailing 11-2, A-State was able to score five in a row to cut it to four, but the Jaguars didn’t let the Red Wolves get any closer. South Alabama pulled away with an 8-0 run to end the half and lead 39-22 at the break.
A-State hit just 7-of-29 (24.1 percent) from the field and 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from 3-point range. South Alabama shot 45.2 percent (14-31), but 50 percent (5-10) beyond the arc. Both teams were 6-of-8 (75 percent) at the charity stripe.
How It Happened (Second Half):
A-State was unable to convert on its first six shots and started 1-for-9 to hurt any chance of a comeback. The Jaguars missed their first four shots, but regained their touch to build on the lead.
South Alabama used a 14-4 run midway through the period to increase the lead over 20 points. The Red Wolves kept playing hard throughout the game though, with Gillard and Lindsey scoring 10 points in the frame. A-State converted 10-of-12 over the final 11 minutes of the game after making 11 of the first 48 shots.
Despite the slow start, A-State shot 45.2 percent (14-31) in the period, but struggled to 2-of-9 (22.2 percent) from 3-point range. South Alabama connected on 60 percent (18-30) and 33 percent (5-15) beyond the arc.
- A-State used its 13th different starting lineup of the season, eighth-most in NCAA Division I action this season.
- Tamas Bruce had three blocks in the first half to match his career best total. He finished with four blocks on the afternoon.
- Marquis Eaton had a season best five rebounds.
- Connor Kern finishes with 11 points, most in a conference game this season.
Quoting Coach Balado:
“Our guys didn’t shoot the ball well today. I expected that we would, but when we have a different look out there without Deven (Simms). I think the guys started pressing a little bit and trying to do too much. Ty (Cockfield) tried to really take this team on his back a little bit, but he took some illegitimate shots. Grantham (Gillard) did not shoot the ball well, so it was tough for us to get baskets. I thought we guarded pretty well in the first half and we guarded the three decently. (Rodrick) Sikes is a good player and he hit some deep 3’s with a guy right there.”
The Red Wolves return to First National Bank Arena for the final three home games of the season. A-State will host Little Rock on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.