JACKSON, Miss. (AStateRedWolves.com) – A gritty performance was turned in by the Arkansas State University men's basketball team in its 2013-14 season opener as the Red Wolves overcame an 11-point deficit to win a hard-fought 65-61 decision over Jackson State this Monday (Nov. 11) night at JSU's Lee E. Wiliams Athletics and Assembly Center (AAC) in Jackson, Miss.
Arkansas State was down by 11 points with 13 minutes left in the game and rallied with a 17-6 run in an 11-minute span to tie the game up at 56-apiece on a layup bysophomore forward Raeford Worsham with 2:45 left to play. Senior Melvin Johnson III's triple gave A-State a 59-56 lead at 2:03 and the Red Wolves would hold the lead for the contest's final two minutes en route to the season-opening triumph and improve to 1-0 on the season. The victory also snapped a three-game losing skid for A-State in season openers with the Red Wolves' last win coming in the 2009-10 season with a 93-47 home win over MacMurray College (11/16/09).
Sophomore guard Cameron Golden led the RedWolves with 16 points off the bench in 28 minutes of action while seniors Kirk Van Slyke and Melvin Johnson III also reached double figures with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Johnson III along with senior forward Kendrick Washington grabbed a team-high six rebounds apiece. Jackson State, which falls to 0-2 on the season, had four players score double figures with Brandon West's 14 points leading the way.
"It was a great gritty comeback victory for us," said A-State head coach John Brady. "We made some key stops down the stretch and with the game on the line we did the things necessary to win.
"This was a good road test for us early on and I give credit to Jackson State, who plays extremely hard," added Brady.
The host Tigers scored the game's first six points and would go on to lead by nine at 16-7 with just over 14 minutes remaining in the first half. The Red Wolves were resilient and managed togradually chip away at JSU's lead in the next four minutes to close within 24-23 on a Rakeem Dickerson layup with 8:50 left on the clock. However, the Tigers still maintained their lead until two seconds remained when A-State forced a JSU turnover and would took advantage as Melvin Johnson III canned a triple try from the right arc off a Cameron Golden pass to pull the Red Wolves into a 33-all tie at the half.
Jackson State would come out firing in the second half, scoring nine unanswered points to go up 42-33 at the 15:58 mark. The Tigers would increase their margin to 11 points at 50-39 with 13:38 to go before neither team was able to score until nine minutes left when Cameron Golden hit a trey to pull the Red Wolves within 50-42.
For the game, A-State's bench outscored the Tigers by 20 points (31-11) while shooting 38.2% (21-55) from the floor. The Red Wolves shot 39.1% (9-23) from three-point territory and were14-of-21 at the free throw line for 66.7% efficiency. A-State, which was outrebounded 46-32 on the glass, forced the JSU into 15 turnovers and 53.8% (7-13) from the free throw stripe.
Arkansas State returns to the court this Wednesday (Nov. 13) as the Red Wolves face the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks in their season home opener at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro, Ark. The non-conference matchup is scheduled for a 7:05 p.m. (CT) tipoff. Tickets may be purchased by contacting the A-State Central Box Office at 1-888-ASU FANS or by ordering online at www.astate.edu/tickets.
A-State men's basketball is on Twitter. Follow head coach John Brady (@JohnBrady_Coach) and the program's official Twitter account (@RedWolvesHoops) to get insider news, information, and team updates. The Red Wolves are also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RedWolvesMBB.