JONESBORO, Ark. - Nijal Pearson scored 21 points to lead three players in double figures as the Texas State men’s basketball team overcame a 16-point deficit in the first half and came back to defeat Arkansas State 84-74 Thursday night at the First National Bank Arena.
In addition to Pearson’s 21 points, Alonzo Sule added 18 points off the bench and Jaylen Shead netted 17 points as the Bobcats won their 20th game of the season and improved to 20-5 overall, 9-3 in Sun Belt Conference play.
Ty Cockfield scored a game-high 39 points and Tristin Walley added 12 points off the bench for Arkansas State (10-15, 4-8).
Texas State equaled its season-high of 28 free throws made in the game as Shead made 9-11 and Sule hit 8-9. Tre’Larenz Nottingham made all five of his free throws and ended the game with seven points, while Eric Terry and Alex Peacock netted eight points each.
Arkansas State jumped out to a 25-9 lead in the first 8:14 of Thursday night’s game when Cockfield opened play making 5-7 shots from the field.
Following a timeout, Pearson answered with seven quick points on a three-point play, a jumper and layup to pull the Bobcats back to within 27-18. After Cockfield nailed a three-point shot from the left wing, Peacock drove the right baseline for a slam dunk and Terry hit a left-hand hook across the lane to make the score 30-22. Shead made the second of two free throws and layup before Nottingham made a layup and free throw to pull Texas State back to within 38-33 with 2:30 left in the half.
On the Red Wolves’ next possession Matthews was called for a flagrant foul and the Bobcats scored four points when Nottingham made two free throws and Peacock hit a jumper in the paint. Pearson nailed a jumper from the free throw line to make the score 40-39. Following a turnover by Arkansas State, Peacock made one of his two free throws to tie the score 40-40 at halftime.
Alonzo Sule gave the Bobcats their first lead when he made two straight layups to put the Bobcats up 44-40.
After Satterfield tied the score, Shelby Adams scored five points on a three-point shot from the right baseline and drove the left side for a layup. Terry added a layup to give the Bobcats a 53-47 lead with 11:13 left to play.
Texas State took its biggest lead of 10 when Shead made a pair of free throws and hit Sule for a layup and drove the length of the court for another layup to give the Bobcats a 59-49 lead with 7:31 left to play.
Arkansas State cut the lead in half when Cockfield hit a pair of free throws and nailed a three-point shot from the left wing. He pulled the Red Wolves back to within 64-61 before the Bobcats answered with a five-point play when Pearson nailed a three-point shot from the top of the key and Gillard grabbed Sule with the shot in the air. Sule made both free throws to give the Bobcats 69-61 lead. Pearson nailed another trey and Shead hit to put Texas State up 72-65 with 2:52 left to play.
Shead extended the lead to 80-71 with 33 seconds left to play when he made four straight free throws. Sule made two more free throws to make the score 82-71. Cockfield hit a three-point shot to make it 82-74. Shead closed out the game with two more free throws to make the final score 84-74.
The Bobcats will play Little Rock on Saturday after the Trojans beat UT Arlington 56-52 in the Jack Stephens Center. Texas State’s victory combined with UTA’s loss put Texas State atop the Sun Belt standings. UTA drops back into a second-place tie with Georgia State, one game back of the Bobcats.
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