OMAHA, Neb. (12/13/17) – The Arkansas State men’s basketball team erased a 19-point second half deficit but came up short in a 77-74 loss at Omaha Wednesday night.

A-State (3-7) trailed by 19 with 14:35 to play, but fought back to tie the game behind a 23-4 run over the next six minutes. Omaha (2-10) hit 13-of-13 free throws in the second half, including four in the final two minutes to take the victory.

Ty Cockfield led A-State with 23 points, his third 20-point effort this season. Deven Simms had 12 points and Tamas Bruce added 10. Zach Jackson led the Mavericks with 22 points, one of three players in double figures for Omaha.

A-State shot 50 percent (30-60) from the field, but struggled to 4-of-19 (21 percent) beyond the arc. A-State was 10-of-13 (77 percent) at the charity stripe, but the Mavericks sank 14-of-15 (93 percent) and shot 43 percent (28-65) from the field. Omaha held a 39-29 edge on the boards and a 16-7 advantage on second chance points with the 14-8 advantage on the offensive glass.

How It Happened (First Half):

A cold start shooting the ball saw A-State fall behind, but free throws kept Omaha from taking any more than a five point advantage. The Red Wolves were off the mark on their first six shot attempts and 3-for-14 (21 percent) before finding a rhythm.

Omaha led 23-15 with 6:40 left, but an 8-0 run saw A-State tie the game. The Mavericks closed the half on a 12-3 run to hold a 35-26 lead at the break. A-State was 8-for-10 (80 percent) at the charity stripe in the first half, but didn’t hit a 3-point shot (0/8) and finished 9-for-26 (35 percent) from the field.

Omaha hit 39 percent (15-39) from the field, including 4-of-15 (27 percent) from 3-point range. The Mavericks split two trips to the free throw line and held a 27-15 advantage on the glass. Omaha pulled in 10 offensive rebounds for 10 second chance points and held a 20-18 advantage on points in the paint.

How It Happened (Second Half):

A-State scored the first four points of the second half, but Omaha outscored the Red Wolves 19-5 over the next four minutes to build a 19-point advantage, 54-35. The Red Wolves answered with a 23-4 run over the next six minutes to tie the game at 58.

Omaha regained the lead at 60-58 and kept the Red Wolves from taking their first lead of the night until Simms drove to the rim and dished to Salif Boudie for a layup and a 70-69 lead at 2:29. Free throws put Omaha back in front 71-70 and a layup made it 73-70, but A-State scored the next four points to lead once again, 74-73. Omaha regained the lead with an offensive rebound and putback, but left 27 seconds on the clock for A-State.

Simms attempted to drive the baseline from the left side of the floor, but was whistled for an offensive foul giving the ball back to the Mavericks. A-State fouled with eight seconds left and Omaha hit both free throws to lead 77-74. The Red Wolves got a good look at a potential game-tying three, but the shot rimmed off giving Omaha the win.

A-State shot 62 percent (21-34) in the second half and was 4-of-11 (36 percent) from 3-point range. The Red Wolves had just three free throw attempts in the second half compared to 13 for the Mavericks. Omaha was 50 percent (13-26) from the field and 3-point range (3-6) in the second half.

The Red Wolves out-rebounded Omaha 14-12 in the second half, but four offensive rebounds led to six second chance points for the Mavericks. A-State saw 32 of the 48 second half points come inside the paint, out-scoring Omaha 32-20 over the final 20 minutes.

Notables:

  • Omaha was the third of four first time opponents for A-State this season. The other three first-time opponents are Howard, Indiana and Culver-Stockton.
  • Ty Cockfield had his third 20-point outing and it marked the eighth time in 10 games the Red Wolves had a player score 20 or more points.
  • The loss dropped A-State to 18-23 against the current membership of the Summit League (0-3 against league members at time of game).
  • A-State had a season-high 50 points in the paint, outscoring Omaha 50-40.

Quoting Coach Balado:

“This one hurts. We wanted this one bad and I wanted it for the guys to believe we could win on the road. I was proud of our effort because being down 19, we could have packed it in. That effort shows that everybody needs to be patient with this team because they believe. We came back and took the lead and they got an offensive rebound.”

“What beat us tonight was the glass. They got 14 offensive rebounds and we held them to 43 percent shooting. They got 16 second chance points and if you take away eight made baskets off those offensive rebounds, they are shooting in the 30 percent range. Omaha was a physical team and Tamas Bruce got hurt down the stretch and didn’t play those final three minutes. That hurt us because he gets those big rebounds for us.”

“I have to watch the film, but I thought Deven didn’t charge. I thought he got to the spot and the defender was sliding his feet, but I could be wrong. I’m not going to blame the officials because they have a tough enough job as it is. If we don’t get down 19, we don’t have to put ourselves in that position. I look back at this game and think if we were playing harder than them for some minutes and we weren’t. We’ve got to come out and play hard from the beginning of the game and make sure we don’t get in that kind of deficit.”

Up Next:

A-State continues the three-game road trip with Saturday’s game at Florida Atlantic. Tipoff is set for 6:00 p.m. (CT) and the game can be heard on 95.3 The Ticket.