JONESBORO, Ark. (3/9/19) – Senior guard Ty Cockfield tied the Arkansas State single-season scoring record and made a game-tying three late in regulation to force overtime, but the Red Wolves dropped their regular-season finale 90-87 against Louisiana in a Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at First National Bank Arena.
A-State finished the regular season with a 13-18 overall record and 7-11 mark in league play. The Red Wolves will enter next week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the No. 9 seed and play a first-round game at No. 8 South Alabama on Tuesday, March 12. Louisiana now stands 19-12 on the year and holds a 10-8 Sun Belt record.
Cockfield scored a game-high 35 points, giving him 695 for the season to tie Adrian Banks (2006-07) for the most in school history. His total currently ties the fifth most single-season points posted by a Sun Belt Conference player since 1992-93. Cockfield led four A-State players scoring in double figures, including Marquis Eaton with 15, Christian Willis with 12 and Tristin Walley with 10.
The Red Wolves trailed by as much as 13 points in the second half and found themselves facing a 72-60 deficit with 8:38 remaining in regulation. However, they went on an 11-0 run over the next three minutes to pull back within 72-71.
Louisiana pushed its lead back to six points, 81-75, at the 2:37 mark and still led 84-81 with 1:09 left on the clock. Two possessions later, Cockfield tied the game at 84-84 with his sixth made shot from beyond the arc.
The Ragin’ Cajuns recorded the first five points in overtime and oustcored the Red Wolves 6-3 in the extra period. Cockfield pulled A-State back to within 89-87 after making a layup while drawing a foul that sent him to the line. Louisiana set the final score with a free throw at the 1:03 mark as A-State couldn’t convert on its final three shot attempts of the game.
“This was obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I’m very proud of our team,” said A-State head coach Mike Balado. “I thought they came with great focus and played with great energy. Credit Louisiana-Lafayette – they played very well.
“At the same time, I thought our team fought back hard (after we got behind). Ty Cockfield was tremendous, and he deserves to be first team all-conference. He’s had a great run in our conference season. Christian Willis was excellent today and came in and gave us some huge minutes, so that was a bright spot for us, obviously, going into the conference tournament.”
A-State finished with a 41.8 shooting percentage in comparison to Louisiana’s .438 mark from the field. The Red Wolves set a new school and arena record for most free throws made without a miss, hitting all 23 of their attempts.
Louisiana held a slight 43-41 advantage on the boards and collected 18 offensive rebounds it turned into 20 second-chance points. The Ragin’ Cajuns were also able to take advantage of 10 A-State turnovers, which they turned into 20 points.
Louisiana trailed for only 36 seconds in the first half as A-State held its only lead at 30-29 with 4:18 remaining before the break. The final four minutes saw the Ragin’ Cajuns outscore the Red Wolves 13-4 to give them a 42-34 halftime lead.
The visitors were led by four players scoring in double figures as well, including Jakeenan Gant with a team-high 25 points. PJ Hardy scored 17, Justin Miller finished with 16 and Cedric Russell added 13.
A-State’s first-round Sun Belt Tournament game at South Alabama is set to start at 7:00 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La., to play No. 5 Louisiana in the second round on Thursday, March 14.