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Red Wolves clip Warhawks, 64-58

By Kyle Whittington
On March 8, 2014

The A-State Red Wolves men’s basketball team suited up Thursday in the Convocation Center to take on the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks in Sun Belt Conference play. A-State entered the game at 17-11 overall and 9-7 in Sun Belt conference play, and on the other end ULM entered at 9-15 overall and 6-10 in Sun Belt conference play. A-State needed a win to bounce back from the loss to Georgia State on Tuesday and steady their ranking in the conference, and ended up defeating the Warhawks 64-58.

The first half played out with A-State showing their superiority in route to a 13 point lead with a score of 33-20 at halftime. ULM struck first, and the game was back and forth for the first five minutes, but the Red Wolves defense kicked in, and their offense sprang to life. They forced 10 turnovers from ULM and converted 46 percent of their shots from the field. Senior guard Ed Townsel, senior forward Kirk Van Slyke and senior forward Kendrick Washington led the charge for the Red Wolves in the first half with eight points, seven points and seven points respectively. Townsel also threw in two steals to help energize the Red Wolves.

At the 16:30 mark of the game, Kirk Van Slyke battled sophomore guard Daniel Grieves for a rebound off of a miss by Ed Townsel. Both players went down to the ground battling for the rebound, and a foul was eventually assessed to Kirk Van Slyke. In the tussle, Kirk Van Slyke was thrown over Grieves’ shoulder onto the floor. Van Slyke took great exception to this and went after Grieves, but was quickly restrained before a fight broke out. Both players were assessed a technical foul, but Kirk Van Slyke was assessed a second one and subsequently thrown out of the game. When the Convocation Center heard what was eventually assessed to Van Slyke, after a review, they erupted with a chorus of boos towards the refs, but that did little to change the call. The real issue with the decision made by the refs is that Van Slyke will probably not be able to play against Louisiana-Lafayette for the third seed in conference.

At that point in the game, the Red Wolves led 35-26. ULM was fueled by their fortune and went on a nine to two run to cut the lead to 37-35 off of a tip-in by senior forward Jayon James. After a quick 30 seconds timeout by Coach John Brady, senior guard Melvin Johnson III came out and hit two big threes to extend the lead back to eight at 43-35.

“I did kind of realize that Kirk wasn’t playing and I hadn’t made that many shots before it, so I realized i needed to make couple of shots and my percentages caught up to me,” Johnson said on the run that he made at the end of the game.

ULM fought back after that to eventually tie the game at 47 all with four minutes to play, but A-State used a seven to zero run to seal the victory for the home team.

The final score of the game was 64-58 for the Red Wolves, as they improved to 18-11 overall and 10-7 in conference. The Red Wolves were led by Melvin Johnson III with 17 points, Ed Townsel with 13 points, and Kendrick Washington with 12 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Rakeem Dickerson played late minutes in the game and helped spark the final push with some timely buckets and great defense. After the game, Brady talked about it being full of adversity.

“We came through all of that, and that’s the most important thing. We came through and we were about to win the game,” Brady said in the post-game press conference.

Brady was also pleased with the noise from the crowd and hopes it will continue Saturday night when the Red Wolves take the court for the last time this regular season in the Convocation Center. The Red Wolves host the Ragin’ Cajuns from ULL at 7:05 Saturday in the Convocation Center on the second game of a doubleheader.

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