By Chuck Livingston, Sports Editor, The Evening Times and ASU Mid-South Sports Information
Opponents have made a habit of having a hot night against the Greyhounds of Arkansas State University Mid-South this season, but that doesn't always have to spell doom for them, either.
The Greyhounds won their regular season finale in Conway, topping Central Baptist College junior varsity team 101-96 to finish their regular season 18-10 after an 0-3 start.
ASU Mid-South won despite Central Baptist canning 14 three-pointers in the game on 47% shooting from the arc and 22 of 26 free throws.
"I'm glad to get this one in the books so we can focus on Saturday's playoff," said ASU Mid-South head coach Chris Parker. "It will certainly be a challenge, but I love going to battle with this team and just want to savor each and every game we have left together."
While Central Baptist tried to shoot the lights out from three, ASU Mid-South got great production from their bench who outscored the starters 54-47. The Greyhounds saw freshman Teverette Cain score a career-high 16 points, while Joe'Randle Toliver scored 17 points with five three-pointers, and Chris Smith was extremely active on the boards, keeping several possessions alive with key offensive rebounds.
"It's great knowing that any of our players can step up and get the job done on any given night," added Parker. "Our guys are not caught up in starting, they are caught up in winning. They all believe in each other and know that we will play the people playing the best that night. And when that happens, everyone pulls for everyone because at the end of the day they know their time is coming as long as we keep winning."
ASU Mid-South had previously controlled their home game against Central Baptist JV in January, winning 128-74, but the shooting of the hosts kept them in Monday's game all night long.
The Greyhounds led 49-43 at halftime as Central Baptist hit eight triples in the opening stanza.
Despite Central Baptist's hot shooting, Parker was actually encouraged by his team's effort.
"It was another game where the home team has a career shooting night, but it shows we've really made progress," said the coach. "In the fall we played opponents who hit 13 and 14 three's for the game and we lost both games. Tonight CBC hit 14 three-pointers, but we were still able to get the win on the road. It shows we have learned to battle despite the circumstances."
Parker said that there wasn't a specific adjustment made to slow down the Central Baptist onslaught.
"We just outlasted them. I certainly think we did a better job in the last five minutes, but even then they hit one from 35 feet out," says Parker. "It was just one of those nights for them. I think our nights are coming."
The Greyhounds were led by Randle's 17 points, Cain's 16 points, all in the second half, as well as 16 from Trent Steen and 11 from Tasmania Jones. Tevin Brown and LaQuan Davie both finished with nine points.
ASU Mid-South now turns its attention to Saturday afternoon in Harrison where they will play North Arkansas College for the third time this season for the Region 2 Championship. The winner will advance to the District XIII Championship on March 5 for the right to advance to the NJCAA national tournament in Danville, Illinois.
The Greyhounds won the 2014 Region 2 title in Harrison, the first in school history. North Arkansas returned the favor last season when they claimed the championship in The Dog House.
In the teams' previous matchups this season, ASU Mid-South beat #7 North Arkansas 83-79 at home to post the first win against a nationally-ranked team in the school's history. North Arkansas was ranked #16 in the nation when they escaped the Greyhounds in Harrison with a 77-76 decision on February 13.
The Lady Greyhounds will also battle for the Region 2 title on Saturday. That game will tip at 2:00 p.m. with the men starting at approximately 4:00 p.m.