Red Wolves split road trip
The Arkansas State Red Wolves traveled to the University of Louisiana-Monroe on Thursday to take on the Warhawks in Sun Belt Conference play. The Red Wolves entered the game 11-7 on the year and 4-3 in Sun Belt Conference play, while ULM entered 6-9 and 3-4 in the Sun Belt.
The Red Wolves needed to bring home a win against this team to get back into the upper echelon of teams in the Sun Belt, but the Warhawks had other plans.
The game was close through the first half with no team leading by more than six.
During this time the Red Wolves were carried by senior forward Kirk Van Slyke and senior guard Melvin Johnson III as they combined to score 22 of the team’s 33 points.
On the other side, ULM had a very balanced attack, getting scores from seven different players. The half ended at a 33-33 draw with A-State holding onto the momentum.
The Red Wolves came out of the gates during the second half by creating a turnover and converting a layup, but then allowed an 8-0 run to give a 6 point lead to ULM.
Melvin Johnson III was not going to let the game get too far away as he hit back to back threes to get the Red Wolves within striking distance.
ULM put on a huge run in the second half and the Red Wolves struggled to get back into it.
By the seven minute mark the Warhawks had pushed their lead to nine and the Red Wolves could not get the scoring and stops required to successfully mount a comeback.
The closest they would get to ULM was within five points after a three pointer by senior guard Ed Townsel, but it proved to be too little too late as there were just 15 seconds left on the clock.
The final score was 65-72 Warhawks, and the Red Wolves fell to 11-8, 4-4 Sun Belt.
In a press release after the game, Head Coach John Brady voiced his displeasure at the team’s inconsistency.
“We take a step forward and then two steps backward,” he said, adding the team had played poorly.
Coming off of the blowout win against UALR after the streak of road losses, it was hoped that the Red Wolves had turned a corner and were ready to force their way back into the conversation of best Sun Belt team, but this game proved to be a stumbling block.
The game was dominated by Melvin Johnson III as he scored 27 points on 50 percent shooting (7-14) from the field and 7-9 from the free throw line. 6-7 buckets were three pointers, as he shot over 50 percent from there (6 of 11), and he added eight rebounds, an assist and a steal, but he did have three turnovers.
Kirk Van Slyke also had a good game with 15 points on 6-11 from the field with a three pointer, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and only one turnover.
However, the Red Wolves were yet again out rebounded 33-29 and had twice as many turnovers (14 -7) as the Warhawks.
Following the defeat, the Red Wolves headed to Troy to take on the Trojans. The Trojans, at 7-13 on the year with a 2-6 record, were responsible for a 98-84 loss on Jan. 9 for the Red Wolves at home.
However, the hot shooting that led Troy to that win seemed absent on Saturday as a balanced Red Wolves offense would lead throughout the game.
Rakeem Dickerson and Ed Townsel both scored a game-high 19 points to lead four players in double figures.
“It was important for us to get this one,” said Brady. “We played really well tonight and I was proud of the way our guys bounced back after a disappointing loss Thursday night (at ULM). We played with a lot of energy and guarded them well.”
A-State finished the night shooting 43.6 percent (24-55) from the floor and 82.8 percent (24-29) at the free throw line.
Troy made 46.6 percent (27-58) of its shots from the field and was 57.1 percent (12-21) in free throw efficiency.
With the win the Red Wolves move to 12-8 on the season with a 5-4 conference record.
With that record A-State is 3.5 games back with nine games left in conference. The Red Wolves will face the Scots of Lyon College at 7:05 Tuesday, February 4th at the Convocation Center.
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