Arkansas State loses a perfectly winnable game by shooting 39% at the charity stripe.
Early in the second half, the Red Wolves were up by 11 and seemingly cruising. Arkansas State was playing strong in the paint and making the tough points while creating turnovers at the other end. The loss came slowly; by inches. A couple turnovers here. A few missed jumpers there. A crippling inability to hit a three-ball. An absurd number of blown free throws. What was at times a very enjoyable Red Wolves effort became a quagmire of head-slaps and teeth gnashing.
At one point, the Bears simply stopped defending the perimeter – the Red Wolves finished 4-19 from downtown. But it was the free throws that killed Arkansas State. The Red Wolves shot 38% from the charity stripe. The Bears? 93%. Last season, finishing games at the free-throw line was a Red Wolves’ specialty. This season, free throws are dog food.
Caleb Fields led all Red Wolves with 16 points. Omar El-Sheikh delivered a double-double (13pts, 10 boards) but was just 3 of 9 from the free throw line. Once the Bears realized that they didn’t have to defend beyond the 3-point arc, and that they could foul without penalty on the scoreboard, the Red Wolves were BBQ.