JONESBORO, Ark. (3/7/19) – Ty Cockfield II scored a game-high 26 points, Grantham Gillard added a career-high 25 and Marquis Eaton hit a pair of game-winning free throws with seven seconds left to lift the Arkansas State men’s basketball team to a 73-72 Sun Belt Conference victory over ULM Thursday night at First National Bank Arena.
With the victory, A-State (13-17, 7-10) secured a spot in next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament. ULM (15-14, 8-9) suffered its second straight setback and now sits one game above A-State in the Sun Belt standings at seventh place.
Cockfield, Gillard and Eaton accounted for all of A-State’s players scoring in double figures and combined to post 62 of the Red Wolves’ 73 total points. Gillard hit a career-high seven three pointers, which were just two shy of the First National Bank Arena record.
A-State led for all but one minute and 16 seconds in the first half before taking a 39-38 advantage into the break. Although ULM was able to regain the advantage a couple of times early in the second half, the Red Wolves also led for most of the game’s final 20 minutes.
The Warhawks were able to erase a 67-61 deficit with 5:36 to play by going on a 9-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 70-67 lead, their largest of the game, at the 2:03 mark. However, Cockfield scored the next four points to put the Red Wolves back in front 71-70 with just over a minute left in the contest.
ULM’s White was able to give the Warhawks their last lead at 72-71 on a dunk with 34 seconds to go, setting up Eaton’s heroics. With A-State sitting four fouls away from the bonus, ULM fouled three times on A-State’s next possession to leave A-State with an inbounds play with seven seconds left on the clock.
Before A-State could put the ball in play, Eaton was fouled to send him to the free throw line for a 1-and-1 attempt. The sophomore guard made both attempts and a three-point shot by ULM’s Dashion Smith just before the buzzer was off the mark to seal the win for the Red Wolves.
“What a game – I want to give a lot of credit to Louisiana-Monroe,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “I think they are an excellent basketball team, and Daishon Smith is one of the best players in the league. I really respect coach Richard – he’s done an excellent job with that team, and they are very good.
“I thought our guys played excellent tonight. I’m very proud of their effort, our execution was tremendous, we took care of the basketball and obviously a big night from Grantham and Ty helped out. Marquis was great down the stretch, getting everybody organized and executing the plays. It was a much needed win, obviously for seeding in the (Sun Belt Conference) tournament – very important. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and play a good Louisiana team on Saturday.”
A-State finished the outing with a 46.7 field goal percentage and made 10-of-27 three-point attempts. ULM made 48.1 percent of its shots and was 5-of-19 from beyond the arc, while also making 17-of-26 free throws in comparison to the Red Wolves’ 7-of-9 mark at the charity stripe.
The Warhawks held a 35-30 advantage on the boards and outscored A-State 28-22 in the paint, but the Red Wolves’ committed a season-low six turnovers to ULM’s eight.
Smith scored a team-high 23 points to lead three ULM players scoring in double figures. Travis Munnings and Michael Ertel added 16 and 14 points for the Warhawks, respectively.
A-State closes out its regular season Saturday, March 9, with a 4:00 p.m. home game against Louisiana at First National Bank Arena.