Jonesboro (KAIT) – With a free throw with just 6.5 seconds remaining in regulation, freshman guard Brandon Reed tied the score at 63-63 for the Arkansas State men's basketball team in front of a season-high crowd of 6,059.
Reed missed ensuing free-throw and WKU rebounded the ball but was unable to get a look at the basket, forcing the first overtime for ASU this season. ASU led by as many as five in OT, but WKU senior guard AJ Slaughter hit a pair of 24-foot three-pointers in the final 46 seconds to give the Hilltoppers a 78-76 win.
Reed had 30 points to lead all players on the floor connecting on 8-15 including 5-9 from three point range and was 9-11 from the charity stripe.
Martavius Adams and Rashad Allison each added 12 points for the Red Wolves. Adams led ASU with eight rebounds.
The loss pushes ASU to 15-12 on the season with a 10-6 Sun Belt mark. WKU moves to 17-12 and also moves to 10-6 in league action.
"I don't know if there was a better college basketball game played tonight, regardless of who or where it was," said ASU head coach John Brady. "I was proud of our team. I told our players be disappointed for losing but be proud of the way you played and competed and tried to play the game. If you do that consistently enough over the long haul, we will be celebrating some things here. I feel confident in that."
"I was really impressed, touched and it made us feel good that the crowd was there. It was probably as enthusiastic a crowd that has been in the Sun Belt this year in any venue and hopefully we can create that. I was appreciative of the support we had tonight and so were our players," added Brady.
The Red Wolves led by as many as 12-points in the first half after sophomore forward Martavius Adams scored a layup with 57-seconds remaining in the frame and took a 10-point lead, 36-26 into the locker room at the half.
The Red Wolves held Slaughter, the preseason player of the year selection for the SBC scoreless for the first 15:20 of action until he hit a jumper in the second half. WKU tied the contest for the first time since the opening minutes when Slaughter hit just his second shot at the 11:58 mark.
The game was back-and-forth with seven more ties in the remaining 11-minutes of action. Reed's free throw gave the go ahead for overtime.
In the extra frame, ASU took a five-point lead when Reed sunk two free throws after a foul by Sergio Kerush with 2:05 left in the contest.
The Red Wolves maintained the lead until Slaughter's first three in the final minute tied the contest at 74-74; a steal by Slaughter with just seven seconds remaining sealed the game for the Hilltoppers and forced ASU to foul.
Slaughter finished with 21 points, scoring 13 of those in overtime to lead WKU. Sergio Kerush had 20 while Steffphon Pettigrew had 17 rounding out the Hilltoppers players in double-figures.
Freshman Brandon Peterson had a career-high five blocks for ASU which pushed his season total to 53 moving him into sole-possession of seventh place on the Arkansas State single-season blocks chart.
ASU shot 53.8% from the field in the first half and finished the game with a 44.6% shooting mark (25-56). ASU held WKU to 43.8% from the field in the first half and 30.4% from beyond the three point arc.
The Red Wolves outrebounded WKU 41-35 and won the battle of the paint 30-24.
ASU will return to action at the Convocation Center on Thursday when they host New Orleans in Sun Belt Conference action. Tipoff against UNO is set for 7:05 p.m.