Hot Springs, AR (KAIT) – Another matchup with the Hilltoppers went down to the wire.
Arkansas State (17-14) gave Western Kentucky (21-12) all theywanted and then some, but after AJ Slaughter hit back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute and twenty-eight seconds, ASU's last chance attempt fell short, ending the Red Wolves season and giving WKU a 65-64 win in the quarterfinal round of the Sun Belt Tournament Sunday.
Freshman Brandon Reed and sophomore Martavius Adams led ASU with 17 points. Adams led the Red Wolves on the boards with seven.
"I'm proud of our team and I am really proud of what they are developing at our school and how they are trying to play, regardless of a one-point win or a one-point loss," said ASU head coach John Brady. "You have to give Western Kentucky credit again they found a way to beat us. I am proud of our whole team, how they played, what they did this year and the respect they brought back to this program."
Western Kentucky raced out to a 14-point first half lead, but ASU powered back in the final 3:59 of the frame scoring 11 unanswered points to cut the Hilltoppers' lead to three at the half 35-32.
Sophomore Daniel Bryant hit back-to-back three-pointers midway through the first half to get ASU back in the game. Reed then hit two three-pointers down the stretch of the half to move ASU within striking distance. A layup by Rashad Allison as time expired set the halftime score.
Bryant ended the game with nine on 3-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
After the break the momentum was in ASU's favor as they continued their run leading by nine when freshman guard Trey Finn hit a three-pointer at the 13:30 mark of the second half.
After Slaughter put WKU up for the final time, Adams hit a layup. Slaughter was fouled on the ensuing trip down the floor and missed the first half of the one and one. Allison's last second shot hit the front half of the iron but feel short.
ASU outrebounded WKU 37-24 including pulling down 16 offensive rebounds.
ASU shot 45.6% (26-57) from the floor and was 7-15 from three-point range. Although the Red Wolves had 15 turnovers in the contest, they only posted two in the second half.
Slaughter led WKU with 28 points.