The Red Wolves had to swim upstream the entire game. Cold shooting in the first half – 9 of 33 for 27 percent – was the culprit. Despite that, they trailed just 33-28 at the half after holding a 19-18 lead with 6:52 left in the half.
In the second half, A-State shot better – 11 of 26 for 42 percent – and was able to put together a late rally to force overtime. With 16:36 left, USA led 41-30. With 6:33 left, Anthony Livingston’s 3-point play tied the score at 45-45. In the closing minutes, South had a pair of 2-point leads while the Red Wolves led by as much as 3, but that was erased on a 3-pointer with 1:29 left. The Jags missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final 56 seconds.
The overtime belonged to the Red Wolves. P.J. Hardwick made it 55-53 with 4:28 left. After a 55-55 tie, Cam Golden’s long 3 as the shot clock was about to expire gave A-State a 58-55 lead with 2:23 left. Charles Waters’ rebound dunk made it 60-55 with 1:09 to play.
An awkward 3-pointer by Abdul Lewis, his second one of the night like that, got the Jags to within 2, but the Red Wolves hit 3 of 4 free throws down the stretch and held on at the end as USA missed a pair of 3-pointers in the final 15 seconds.
The victory was the fourth straight for the Red Wolves and the fifth straight over South Alabama. A-State leads the series 22-17 as USA visits Jonesboro on March 5.
Anthony Livingston led the Red Wolves with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Cam Golden finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds. Nom Boucoum, despite fouling out with 2:54 left in OT, finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds.
RECORDS: Arkansas State is now 6-4 on the season and 1-0 in the Sun Belt. South Alabama falls to 2-9 and 0-1. The Red Wolves return to Jonesboro and will face Appalachian State (3-6) on Saturday. It will be the Mountaineers’ SBC opener.
SOME NUMBERS: Arkansas State shot 36 per cent from the field for the game and was 60 percent in the overtime. The Red Wolves were 12 of 16 from the line, while USA was 6 of 12. On 3-pointers, the Jags were 4 of 20 and A-State finished 5 of 19. USA won the rebounding 45-41. ASU forced 16 turnovers and had 12, 6 in each half. The Red Wolves also had 7 steals.
Sean Gardner had 9 points and PJ Hardwick finished with 8 points, 6 assists and 4 steals.
MINUTES: In a 45-minute game, Hardwick played them all. Livingston had 43, Golden 42 and Gardner 41. “We have a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes,’’ said Brady. “I’m going to have to get some more guys in the game. I need to get C.J. Foster some minutes.”
Charles Waters got in 14 minutes, largely in part of Bocoum and Kelvin Downs fouling out. He finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal and his rebound dunk in OT was one of the big plays of the game.
I thought we just found a way to win. I thought we just stole a game on the road which sometimes you have to do. We did not play our best, particularly offensively. We shot it too quick a little bit in the first half. We did better in the second half in slowing it down but we still shot the ball 33 or 34 times. Our team, to its credit, had the toughness and the grit to find a way to win when we weren’t at our best. Particularly in terms of shooting the ball. We had some big plays. Nom's offensive rebounds, Charles Waters follow up dunk, Cam Golden's bigtime 3 as the shot clock was running down, PJ Hardwick’s jumper, 8 or 9 foot bank, we had some things go our way on the road to win a game like this that you have to have happen. Fortunately for us it did tonight. We stole that game. I thought South played really well.”