LAFAYETTE, La. (1/3/19) – A career high 24 points from Marquis Eaton helped the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to a conference opening 94-83 road win at Louisiana Thursday night.
Coming off a 23-point effort against Harding in the non-conference finale, Eaton poured in 24 points to lead A-State (7-7, 1-0) to the win over the defending Sun Belt Conference regular season champions. Grantham Gillard added 20 points while Ty Cockfield had 18. Salif Boudie registered his second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Stroman had a game-high 25 points to lead Louisiana (9-5, 0-1).
“I was really happy with our team tonight in how we handled this hostile environment,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “We came in and executed the game plan perfectly. We walled up guys that we thought we could wall up and we changed up our defensive plan a little bit by going to zone. I was proud of everybody that played, especially our guards that played a lot of minutes while getting pressed. Even though they had 13 turnovers between them, I thought they changed the game because of their composure at the right times.”
After scoring the first bucket to open the scoring, A-State quickly faced an eight point deficit, 19-11, with 12:12 to play in the first half. A 10-0 run forced the Ragin’ Cajuns to call for timeout as the Red Wolves led 32-27 with 4:40 left in the half. Louisiana answered with a 6-0 run to regain the lead, but an Eaton 3-pointer at the buzzer saw A-State lead 43-37 at the break.
A-State extended a 6-0 run to end the half to 14-0 in the opening minute of the second half to build a double-digit lead. The Red Wolves led by 16, 73-57, with 10:05 to play. Louisiana whittled down the A-State lead to as few as four, 85-81, with 2:39 to play, but the Red Wolves pulled away for the 11-point victory.
The Red Wolves controlled the glass to the tune of a 46-26 advantage, including a 16-7 advantage on the offensive end. A-State ended the night with a 21-9 advantage in second chance points while the Ragin’ Cajuns held a 44-40 edge in the paint and a 20-14 advantage off turnovers.
A-State shot 50 percent (31-62) from the field and 40 percent (10-25) beyond the arc. The Red Wolves knocked down free throws down the stretch and finished 19-of-23 (.826) in the second half and 22-of-28 (.786) on the night at the stripe. The A-State defense held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 43 percent (27-63) from the floor and just 5-of-24 (.208) from 3-point range. Louisiana finished 75 percent (24-32) at the charity stripe, hitting 15-of-20 (.750) in the second half.
The Red Wolves earn just their second win in the last 12 meetings against the Ragin’ Cajuns in the Cajundome. A-State won its conference opener on the road for the first time since the 2015-16 season at Troy.
A-State concludes a two-game road swing at ULM on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. from Fant-Ewing Coliseum on ESPN+. 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’.