Arkansas State held a slim 29-28 halftime advantage but gradually pulled away in the second half and was ahead 46-36 midway through the final period. Central Arkansas' Mike Martin made two free throws, nailed a 3-pointer and followed with a steal and a layup, and Otas Iyekekpolor made a free throw to close to 52-44 with 7:00 remaining.
Cameron Golden answered with a 3-pointer that led to a 9-0 run and a 61-44 lead with 3:19 left.
Golden, who made 4 of 10 from beyond the arc, had 14 points and Nouhoum Boucoum added 12 for Arkansas State (1-2).
Martin nailed 3 of 4 from long range and had 13 points and Howard chipped in 10 for the Bears (0-7).