ASU holds off UAPB for third win this season


Mason Smith, Sports Editor

MONTGOMERY, Ala.- The Hornets secure their third win of the season, defeating the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions 73-67 in the Dunn-Oliver Acadome. DJ Heath had a fantastic game, scoring a team-high 16 points on 60% shooting, including going 10-12 from the free-throw line. Brandon Battle records his fourth double-double of the season, contributing 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, including a game-high four offensive boards.

UAPB’s Joshuwan Johnson led all scorers with 17 points to go with five assists, while Jalen Lynn added 14 points. Shaun Doss Jr, who came into the game as the fifth leading scorer in the SWAC, only scored 12 points on 5-13 shooting from the floor.

The Hornets had one of the best offensive performances of the season, shooting 42% from the floor and 40% on three pointers as a team, which is also the first time the team shot 40% from deep in consecutive games. The 10 threes made tie the mark for most in a game this season. 

ASU looked dominant during the first half of the game, taking early control of the game and not letting up. “We just continue to put in the work and get better,” coach Mo Williams says regarding the team’s offensive burst. “I challenge them from their free-throw shooting, from the standpoint of putting the ball in the hole and taking pride in their shooting. Each and every game we’re getting better, and tonight I’m pleased with how we shot the ball.”

The scoring burst continued into the second half where the Hornets actually shot better than the first. The hot shooting helped ASU grow its lead to 21 points. The game looked well in hand until UAPB started scoring with 9 minutes to go in the second half. The Golden Lions used that momentum to go on a 16-6 run, and the lead was eventually cut down to six with a minute left.

“Typically, you’re up big, the other team just gets into a frantic mode and sometimes they create turnovers. We’ve been that team lately… so this is our first time being attacked,” Williams said. The Hornets have made a habit of being a second half team, cutting down large deficits on several occasions this season. Pine Bluff is the first team to give them a taste of their own medicine. “It’s not fun, but we can learn from it and come to practice tomorrow and get better,” Williams shared.

The offense has slowly but surely improved over the course of the season, scoring over 60 points for the last four games. Brandon Battle is playing at an All-SWAC level, and the team is trending in the right direction.

The win was also big for conference play; ASU and UAPB were ninth and eighth in the standings. With the win, the Hornets are even in head-to-head matchups and they pass the Golden Lions in the standings. Now in eighth place, they take on Mississippi Valley, without a conference win and in last place, on Feb. 8, then they get a second crack at Alabama A&M on Feb. 13. This week is big for ASU basketball, let’s see if they make the most of it.