ASU coach not taking anything back
The Arkansas State Red Wolves started the game on an 11-0 run in defeating the Trojans 75-64 Saturday, Jan. 29, in front of a record crowd of 5,218 at the Jack Stephens Center. The Red Wolves shot 61 percent in the second half and 54 percent for the game.
“I’ve got a basketball team, it’s like Christmas Day when you’re opening up gifts,” ASU coach John Brady said of his team’s inconsistency. “Some of them are real good and some of them you know you’re going to trade in, take back, because you didn’t like it. My team is like that.”
Brady wasn’t taking the Red Wolves’ effort back Saturday night when ASU (12-12, 6-4 Sun Belt Conference) out-rebounded the Trojans 41-23 and held them to 34.5 percent shooting from the field, including 23 percent in the first half.
“The first 20 minutes was as good defensively as we could play,” Brady added.
Rebounding has been an area of emphasis for UALR coach Steve Shields all season and the Trojans were not effective against ASU.
“My biggest concern coming into tonight was rebound margin and obviously that was an important stat in the outcome of the game,” Shields said about the minus-18 rebounding margin. “We’re not a team that can win not rebounding the ball and not defending.”
Sophomore guard Adam Sterrenberg hit a 3-pointer with 3:49 remaining in the first half to give the Red Wolves a 27-9 lead and capping a 14-0 run. UALR senior Solomon Bozeman hit two free throws to begin a 13-3 run to end the half with the Trojans trailing 30-22. Bozeman finished with 18 points to lead the Trojans, hitting 10-10 from the free-throw line.
“I feel like we just started off too relaxed,” Bozeman said. “It’s a big ball game and I don’t think we came ready to play. We were trying not to get so involved in the hype that we came out too relaxed and they pounded us on the glass and we just didn’t defend.”
After cutting ASU’s lead to eight to end the first half, UALR (12-11, 4-4 SBC) couldn’t get anything going in the second half. Junior guard D’Andre Williams hit a layup with 11:43 remaining in the game to make it a 50-40 Trojan deficit. A layup by Trey Finn and a 3-pointer by Donald Boone bumped ASU’s lead to 15 points and the Trojans never got closer than 11 the rest of the game. Boone had 22 points to lead the Red Wolves.
“You have to give Arkansas State credit,” Shields said. “They were a very well prepared team tonight. I feel like we got beat to loose balls. We can’t win giving up that kind of field-goal percentage.”
The Trojans came into the game second in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage at .424, averaging 9.7 3-point makes and 20.8 3-point attempts (46 percent) the past six games. They shot 5-14 Saturday night, 1-5 in the first half, because ASU limited UALR’s 3-point opportunities with solid defense.
“What I saw in our team tonight is what I like to see,” Brady said. “I like to see toughness, the ability to rebound the ball in traffic, defending, holding the opponents to a low field-goal stat and guarding the right players and playing with a tremendous amount of effort.”
ASU senior guard Rashad Allison had what Brady said was his best game of the season scoring 19 points to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Williams had 11 points for UALR and senior guard Alex Garcia-Mendoza added 10.
The Trojans take on Sun Belt Conference West leader Denver at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Jack Stephens Center.