Behind a double-double from Omar El-Sheikh and stout defense, the Arkansas State men’s basketball snapped a 10-game home win streak for Old Dominion and opened Sun Belt Conference play with a 60-57 win at Chartway Arena Thursday night.
Winners of four-straight games, A-State moves to 9-5 overall and improves to 22-10 in Sun Belt Conference openers all-time. The loss snaps a four-game win streak for Old Dominion and drops the Monarchs to 8-5 overall.
El-Sheikh collected his second consecutive double-double, fourth of the season, with 18 points and 13 rebounds, both game-highs. Caleb Fields added 12 points, five rebounds and four assists inching closer to 1,000 career points. With the 12 points, Fields will enter Saturday’s contest two points shy of becoming the 30th player in program history to reach 1,000. Terrance Ford Jr. added 10 points off the bench, his second consecutive outing in double figures and sixth this season. Tyreek Scott-Grayson led the Monarchs with 16 points.
A-State built a 13-point advantage at the break behind a 16-2 run that spanned more than eight minutes. The Red Wolves held ODU scoreless for 7:13 in the half turning a 12-10 deficit into a 23-12 lead. The Monarchs had five made field goals in the first 20 minutes while A-State had five blocked shots. A-State limited the hosts to just 18.5 percent (5-27) shooting in the first half.
The Red Wolves maintained the double-digit advantage much of the second half, matching the largest lead of the game at 13 points, 55-42, with 4:17 to play. Old Dominion mounted a furious rally late going on an 11-0 run to cut the deficit to two, 55-53, with 55 seconds to play. Avery Felts, who finished with six points in the game, drained a running layup as the shot clock dwindled to make it 57-53 with 33 seconds to play.
With Fields hitting 2-of-4 free throws on back-to-back offensive possessions, ODU was able to cut the deficit to two, 59-57, with six seconds left. Ford Jr. was fouled with three seconds left and stepped to the stripe and nailed the first free throw giving A-State the 3-point advantage. The second attempt rimmed out, but ODU was unable to get a shot off before the final horn.
A-State shot 42 percent (19-45) from the field while limiting the Monarchs to 35 percent (20-57). Both teams struggled beyond the arch with ODU hitting 4-of-16 (25 percent) and A-State making 3-of-15 (20 percent). Behind 10-of-14 (.714) shooting at the charity stripe by El-Sheikh, A-State was 19-of-28 (.679) for the game compared to 13-of-21 (.619) for the Monarchs.
The Red Wolves finished with a 38-36 advantage on the glass despite 18 offensive rebounds for ODU. The Monarchs held just a 9-7 advantage in second chance points. A-State was outscored 28-16 in the paint, 24-4 in the second half.
Arkansas State returns to action Saturday, Dec. 31, with a 2:00 p.m. game against ULM at First National Bank Arena. The contest will appear on ESPN+,.