Red Wolves’ offense runs into problems in foul fest
ARKANSAS STATE 72, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 60
JONESBORO — Arkansas State University knew it was playing one of the Sun Belt’s best offensive teams Saturday night.
But the Red Wolves’ biggest trouble came in trying to handle the Eagles’ ordinary defense.
Ike Smith had 21 points, Tookie Brown scored 17 and Georgia Southern handed ASU its first home loss, 72-60 on Saturday night at the Convocation Center.
The offense was expected from the Eagles (18-11, 11-5), who shot 47.8 percent and entered averaging 77.7 points in Sun Belt games, and Smith and Brown were the league’s top two scorers. But the Red Wolves struggled offensively in a tightly officiated game against an Eagles defense that allowed 75.7 points in Sun Belt games.
Devin Carter had 15 points, but ASU was held to 32.8 percent shooting and made only 4 of 23 three-pointers. The Red Wolves (19-9, 10-5) never did find an offensive flow while being called for 25 fouls, and Georgia Southern made 21 of 34 free throws. ASU made 16 of 28 free throws.
A total of 51 fouls were called in the game. Tamas Bruce and Deven Simms fouled out for ASU, and Shawn O’Connell did so for Georgia Southern.
An off-shooting night by Carter, ASU’s leading scorer, didn’t help things. He finished 5 of 18 from the floor and 2 of 12 from three- point range. Simms had 12 points.
The game was tied 46-46 after a C.J. Foster basket with 14:18 left, but the Red Wolves failed to score on five consecutive possessions, the last three of which ended in turnovers. Meanwhile, O’Connell, Smith and Mike Hughes each hit three-pointers for Georgia Southern to go up 54-46. Later, Hughes hit another three and B.J. Gladden made a free throw to make it 59-48 with 8:32 left.
ASU kept the Sun Belt’s two best scorers at bay as long as it could in the first half.
Brown didn’t score until a three-pointer more than eight minutes into the game, and Smith didn’t make a shot from the floor until a layup with 8:21 left in the first half, which gave his team a 21-16 lead.
But Smith closed the first half with 12 points, scoring nine of them in the final 8:21. Most of those came from the free-throw line.
ASU’s foul trouble was such a concern that little-used guard Andrew Riley played the last few defensive possessions of the first half. Simms had three fouls at halftime, while Donte Thomas, Carter, Jahmiah Simmons and Bruce each had two.
SUN BELT WOMEN GEORGIA SOUTHERN 84, ARKANSAS STATE 76
JONESBORO — A sloppy third quarter prevented Arkansas State from winning consecutive Sun Belt games for the first time this year.
ASU (6-22, 4-12) committed eight turnovers that led to 13 Georgia Southern points in the third quarter as it lost momentum two days after a home victory over Georgia State.
Senior Brittany Fowler scored a career-high 27 points while making 7 of 10 three-pointers in her final game at the Convocation Center, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the Red Wolves’ 18 total turnovers, 12 of which came after halftime. Georgia Southern (13-15, 9-8) scored 25 points off turnovers in all.
ASU led 44-40 early in the third quarter, before Georgia Southern went on a 13-0 run, capped by a three-pointer by Patrice Butler, and it entered the fourth quarter leading 58-48.