JONESBORO, Ark. (11/12/18) – Senior guard Grantham Gillard scored a team-high 22 points to lead four Arkansas State men’s basketball players scoring in double figures as the Red Wolves knocked off Missouri Baptist 89-54 Monday night at First National Bank Arena in their home opener.
A-State, which evened its record to 1-1, won its fourth consecutive home opener and now stands 48-10 in such games since the 1961-62 season. Missouri Baptist remains 3-0 as the game was an exhibition contest for the NAIA member.
“Obviously very happy with our defensive effort tonight,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “I have to give a lot of respect to Missouri Baptist. They are a going to be a very good NAIA team. We scouted them very well and Coach (Casey) Stanley did a good job with that. To be quite honest, we should have won that game, so to come up and here and say I’m satisfied, I’m not. I wasn’t happy with our performance in the last game and I’ve said that publicly, but tonight I was proud of the way we played defense. That’s how we should play defense every game and what we expect from our guys. It was great to get back in the win column and it was great to get it in front of our fans. The student attendance tonight and the band were awesome.”
Gillard, who hit 5-of-7 shots from beyond the arc, was joined in double figures by senior guard Ty Cockfield II with 17 points, sophomore guard Marquis Eaton with 13 and senior forward Tristin Walley with 10.
A-State hit 53.2 percent of its field goal attempts and held Missouri Baptist to a .300 percentage on its way to its largest margin of victory since defeating Central Baptist 100-57 on Nov. 14, 2016. The Red Wolves limited the Spartans to 10-of-29 shooting and scored 28 points off 16 turnovers, holding an opponent to its lowest point total since Cleveland State scored just 51 on Nov. 30, 2016.
Outside of the Spartans early 3-2 advantage, Arkansas State led throughout the entire game and by at least 10 points for the final 29 minutes. Leading just 14-10 nearly midway through the first half, the Red Wolves put together a 22-4 run to take a 36-14 advantage at the 5:35 mark.
A-State still led by 22 with 4:27 left, but the Spartans closed out the half by outscoring the Red Wolves 9-2 to pull back within 40-25 at the break. The home squad responded with a 16-6 run to begin the second half and open up a 25-point lead, 56-31, with 15:11 remaining. Missouri Baptist never got closer than 22 points the rest of the way as A-State’s lead swelled to as much as 36.
A-State finished the game with a 45-33 advantage on the boards, dished out 16 assists to Missouri Baptist’s six, posted seven blocks and recorded 11 steals. The Red Wolves also hit 12 three-pointers, which were its most at home since knocking down the 13 against Belhaven on Dec. 6, 2014.
In addition to his 13 points, Eaton handed out a team-high five assists that were only one shy of his career high. Junior forward Malik Brevard led A-State on the boards with nine rebounds. Missouri Baptist was led by three players scoring in double figures, including James McKelvin with a team-high 15 points.
The Red Wolves return to action Friday, Nov. 18, with an 8 p.m. (CT) game against Grand Canyon. For the latest on A-State men’s basketball, follow the Red Wolves on Twitter @AStateMB, at Facebook.com/AStateMB and on Instagram at ‘AStateMB’.