NEW ORLEANS, La. (3/7/18) – A cold shooting first half put the Arkansas State men’s basketball team in a first half hole the team could not overcome as the 2017-18 season came to a close with a 76-54 loss to ULM in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Wednesday.
A-State closes the campaign with a record of 11-21 while the Warhawks advance to the quarterfinals to face Georgia Southern with a 16-14 record. Ty Cockfield paced A-State with 18 points while Tristin Walley and Tamas Bruce each added eight points. Marvin Jean-Pierre had a game-high 23 points to lead the Warhawks.
The Red Wolves converted on just 13 of the first 48 shot attempts (27 percent) and saw ULM take a 14 point halftime lead that swelled to 30 points with eight minutes to play. A-State finished the evening shooting 33 percent (20-60) from the field and 4-of-16 (25 percent) beyond the arc.
ULM shot 50 percent (31-62) overall and made 36.8 percent (7-19) from 3-point range. A-State edged the Warhawks 36-35 on the glass, but ULM forced 15 turnovers and had a 19-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
How It Happened (First Half):
ULM scored the first five points on the night and never trailed in the first half. A-State pulled within 16-14 after the quick start by the Warhawks, but ULM pulled away late in the period. ULM closed the half outscoring A-State 14-5, including a 7-0 run the final 2:02 of the half.
A-State committed seven turnovers in the first eight minutes and had 10 for the first 20 minutes. The Warhawks shot 58.6 percent (17-29) from the field and hit 3-of-9 (33.3 percent) from long range. A-State struggled from the shooting, hitting 32.3 percent (10-31) overall and just 1-of-10 from 3-point range.
How It Happened (Second Half):
ULM outscored A-State 24-8 over the initial 12 minutes of the frame to see the 14-point halftime lead grow to a 30-point advantage at 63-33. A-State connected on 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) to close the game, but it was too late to mount a comeback as the Warhawks cruised to the win.
A-State was just 34.3 percent (10-29) from the floor in the second half, but connected on 3-of-6 (50 percent) beyond the arc. The Warhawks hit 42.4 percent (14-33), including 4-of-10 (40 percent) from 3-point range.
Quoting Coach Balado:
“When you let a team shoot almost 60 percent in the first half, you are going to get down. I just thought that because the way we’ve been all year – this team has never quit – I was hoping we had a run somewhere in us in the second half and it never came. I give them all the credit in the world, Coach Richard is an excellent coach and they did an excellent job on us defensively. We shot an awful percentage, we kept trying to force shots that weren’t there, and that led to runouts and them getting open threes. They beat us in the loose ball category, so I am going to give all the credit to Monroe. They played a much better game than we did and their players played much better than ours tonight, and I wish them the best of luck moving forward in the tournament. “
“I think it was after the second media time out, I looked at the stat sheet and we were shooting like 20 percent. The problem with this team all year has been that they have allowed their offense to dictate the way that they play defensively. I continue to preach to them that at Louisville, our guys played defense whether we shoot 20 percent or 80 percent. What happens is when they shoot well, they get jived up. But it’s the opposite, when you are shooting well, you’ve got to get jived up to get turnovers, fast breaks. When you have a good defensive team like Monroe that sets their defense in the half court, you can’t do it. When I saw the shooting percentage, I started to get a little concerned, because I have seen it before. ”