Red Wolves find way to pull out overtime win

It wasn't easy, but Arkansas State found a way to defeat Troy in overtime here in Hot Springs Saturday night to advance to the semi finals of the Sun Belt Basketball tournament 68-63. All of Basketball coverage is being brought to you by Cache River Valley Seed, Liberty Bank and Adam Staples State Farm Insurance.

Arkansas State played it's worst half of basketball here Saturday night in the opening stanza of the Red Wolves Sun Belt Tournment first game against Troy.

ASU played so bad in the first 20 minutes of the game, that Coach John Brady questioned his team's resolve and thought they had had lost their identity as a team.

To make matters worse, ASU scored their least amount of points in a half in the first stanza all season long, as Arkansas State trailed 26-18 at intermission.

It took an overtime period, but Arkansas State was able to pull out a big 68-63 win.

"I told my team I didn't knowwho they were," Brady said. "We lost our heart and our soul, we definitely lost our identity as a team. I challenged them at the half, told them they had to play better or we were going home."

Arkansas State responded scoring the first eight points of the second half, tieing the game at 26-26, but the game was far from over.

A stingy Troy defense and a less than average shooting by ASU, kept the Trojans in the game throughout the contest.

Arkansas State had a chance to win it at the end of regulation, but with no time outs, Troy forced a five second call playing good defense not allowing ASU to inbounds the ball.

"To keep Ed Townsel and Rakeem Dickerson (two of the fastest players on the court) from getting the inbounds pass, you know Troy had to play some really defense," Brady said. "I really liked the way we fought at the end of the game, we showed some toughness. We didn't play well the entire game, but we didn't give up and found a way to pull it out in the end."

The second-seed Red Wolves, who are now 19-11 overall this season, advance to take on sixth-seed Western Kentucky (18-15 overall) this Sunday (March 10) night in a 9 p.m. (CT) semifinal-round contest at Summit Arena.

"We're going to have to be better tomorrow against a team like Western Kentucky," said ASU head coach John Brady. "We got to shoot the ball much better if we're going to beat them."

Arkansas State, the 2012-13 SBC West Division Champions, advanced to the semifinals for the second straight year as the Red Wolves managed to overcome a sluggish first half and stepped up their game on both ends in the second half only to go into overtime on a game-tying bucket by Troy with six seconds remaining in regulation.

ASU converted 66.7% (4-6) in the extra frame while limiting Troy to 25% (2-8) in the game's final five minutes to advance.

The second half, which featured seven ties and nine lead changes, saw ASU hold a 55-50 lead with 16 seconds left following a free throw by sophomore guard Rakeem Dickerson.

The Trojans would tally five of the next seven points scored in a 10-second span and trailed by a deuce at 57-55 with six seconds left on Antonie Myers' layup. The Red Wolves then turned the ball over a five-seconds call trying to inbound the ball, which set up a game-tying basketball by Troy's Emil Jones as the backcourt player hit a running jumper to send the tourney contest into overtime.

Neither team was able to get on the scoreboard the first 1:45 of the extra session until a Emil Jones' free throw put the Trojans up 58-57 at the 3:15 mark. Arkansas State would regain the lead on Ed Townsel's three-pointer with a second under the three-minute mark only to have Troy drain a triple of its own on Hunter Williams' three ball to go back up 61-60 with 2:02 left on the clock. Townsel hit the ASU's next basket to give the Red Wolves a 62-61 advantage and the Red Wolves would never trail the rest of the way. A jumper by senior Marcus Hooten with a minute left made it a three-point contest and his free throw with seven seconds gave ASU a seven-point cushion at 68-61 with three seconds to be played.

Arkansas State hit just 4 of 22 three-pointers for 18.2% in the game, but compensated by sinking 22 of 30 free throws to post a 73.3% success rate. Troy, on the other hand, was 9 of 18 beyond the arc for 50%, but just 8 of 13 at the foul line (61.5%).

"We weren't very good the first half and at halftime our identity was gone," said Brady. "In the second half we got tougher and made enough shots to win the game. I thought our guys showed a lot of resiliency to come back in the second half and then in the overtime period."

Peterson, who produced his 11th double-double of this season, helped the Red Wolves to a 47-29 advantage on the boards. Junior forward Kendrick Washington pulled down seven rebounds as did senior guard Trey Finn, who contributed nine points.

Troy, which ends their season at 12-21, was led by Hunter Williams and Antoine Myers with 15 and 12 points, respectively.

A big AStateNation thank you to Cache River Valley Seed, Liberty Bank and Adam Staples State Farm Insurance who made our trip possible to cover the ASU Basketball team in the Sun Belt Tournament here in Hot Springs.