JONESBORO, Ark. (12/29/17) – Four Arkansas State players scored in double figures, including junior guard Grantham Gillard with a team-high 19 points, and senior forward Tamas Bruce collected a double-double to help lead the A-State men’s basketball team to a 75-64 second-half comeback victory over Louisiana-Monroe in its Sun Belt Conference opener Friday night at First National Bank Arena.
A-State now stands 5-1 in home games this season and improved its overall record to 6-8 by overcoming a 41-35 halftime deficit. The Warhawks saw their overall record move to 6-6 and stands 0-1 in Sun Belt action, also playing their first league game of the year.
Aided by a 25-of-30 shooting performance at the free throw line, as well as just five turnovers committed that tied the fewest in First National Bank Arena history, the Red Wolves won their second game this season when trailing at the half.
While A-State shot 41.7 percent from field in comparison to ULM’s .453 percentage and was outrebounded 38-27, it limited the Warhawks to just 23 second half points and posted 18 points off 15 turnovers by the visitors. The Red Wolves committed just eight personal fouls and ULM was 1-of-2 at the charity stripe.
Joining Gillard in double figures for the Red Wolves were Deven Simms with 17 points, Ty Cockfield with 15 and Bruce with 10. Bruce hauled down a team-high 11 rebounds as well for his fourth career double-double. ULM was led by junior forward Travis Munnings’ 22 points, while Jordon Harris added 11.
How It Happened (First Half):
While the first half featured three ties, ULM never trailed and built a lead that reached 11 points thanks in part to shooting 54.8 percent from the field. With the score tied 28-28 at the 5:32 mark, the Warhawks went on 13-2 run over the next four minutes to open up their largest advantage of the night at 41-30. A-State was able to score the final five points to pull within 41-35 at the break.
How It Happened (Second Half):
A-State, which limited ULM to 34.5 percent shooting in the second half while increasing its own from 39.1 to 44.0, was able to carry its momentum built at the end of the first half into the start of the next 20 minutes.
The Red Wolves were able to force the game’s fourth tie seven minutes in at 47-47 and took its first lead, 50-49, with 11:58 remaining. Trailing 49-47, the Red Wolves went on a 13-0 run to take a 60-49 advantage at the 5:53 mark. ULM was unable to get closer than seven points down the stretch as the Red Wolves completed the comeback win.
- Arkansas State improved to 18-9 all-time in Sun Belt Conference openers and 13-3 in such games played at home.
- A-State won its second game (2-7) this season when trailing at halftime.
- The Red Wolves are 13-3 over the last two seasons when four or more players score in double figures.
- Arkansas State’s five turnovers were its fewest this season and tied the First National Bank Arena record. The Red Wolves also had just five turnovers against Denver on Feb. 14, 2006.
- ULM’s 1 free throw made tied the fewest ever in First National Bank Arena history, matching Louisiana Tech’s total on Jan. 7, 1995.
- The Red Wolves’ 8 personal fouls were only one more than the lowest total in First National Bank Arena history. The record of 7 was set by A-State vs. ULM on Jan. 19, 2013.
- ULM’s 23 second-half points were the fewest by an A-State opponent over the final 20 minutes of a game since Jan. 2, 2017, when the Warhawks scored just 19.
- Tamas Bruce collected his first double-double of the season and fourth of his career with 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds. He scored in double figures for the sixth time this this year and 17th time of his career.
- With 15 points, Ty Cockfield reached double figures for the 11th time in 14 games. His four assists match his second most this season and he has nine over the last two games.
- Grantham Gillard scored in double figures for the fourth time this season, including the last two games in a row. His 19 points were his second most this year and also marked the second time this season he lead the squad in scoring in a game.
- Deven Simms reached double figures for the 10th time this season and 32nd time of his career. He has scored at least 17 points three of the last four games.
- Rashad Lindsey’s six assists tied his career high for the fifth time.
Quoting Coach Balado:
“Obviously, that was a very good win for us. Any time you can win in conference, it’s obviously great. ULM being picked 12th in this league is a joke. They lost five games last year by three points or less, lost on a half court heave and beat Arkansas State in the tournament. They returned everybody this year but two guards and Coach Richard does a very good job. They are going to beat teams in this league.”
“I was proud of our guys, because we played without one of our starters and guys stepped up. The biggest thing from this game I’m happiest about is that we only had five turnovers. We keep trying to improve that area and that’s guys learning and listening and trying to get better. We had 13 assists on 20 made field goals and 30 free throws, and we earned them. We drove the ball and that was one of the points of emphasis for this game. Great win tonight and I’m proud of our guys, but we have to shift our focus and get ready for Sunday. We’ve got, in my opinion, the best team in the league coming in here.”
Arkansas State remains at home for its next game, hosting Louisiana on Sunday, Dec. 31, at 3:30 p.m.