A-State suffers loss in SBC finale

NEW ORLEANS — The top-seeded Arkansas State women’s basketball team suffered a 61-60 loss to No. 2 Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Conference Championship game Saturday at Lakefront Arena.

Western Kentucky closed the game on 12-2 run and snatched the Sun Belt Conference title from the Red Wolves’ grasp. Arkansas State (22-11) led by as many as 11 with 6:53 to go, but the Lady Toppers caught fire at the right time and seized the momentum in the game’s final minutes.

A-State had an opportunity to win the game in the final seconds when Aundrea Gamble drove to the basket but did not get a clean look at the goal. Her shot hit the rim and ricochet away before the Red Wolves were able to get a clean rebound and get off another shot before time expired.

Gamble scored 22 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, while Jane Morrill added 14 points and four rebounds and both were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Red Wolves continue their in the Women’s National Invitational Tournament next week. The field of team’s well be announced Monday approximately one hour of the NCAA selection show. The bracket and home sites will be announced later that evening.

Concordia-St. Paul’s defense halts Harding’s postseason run

SEARCY — Concordia-St. Paul’s stifling defense limited Harding to 28 percent shooting from the field as the seventh-seeded Golden Bears shocked second-seeded Harding 68-57 in an NCAA Central Region women’s basketball opening round matchup at Rhodes Field House.

The Golden Bears’ Carissa Wolyniec led all scorers with 21, while Ameshia Kearney tallied 16 for CSP. Rachel Hansen ended with 15 for the victors.

Arielle Saunders paced Harding with 16 points and 15 rebounds. Daktronics Central Region Player of the Year Kristen Celsor had 11 points and 12 rebounds, but was limited to 4 for 15 shooting from the field. A’ndrea Haney also reached double figures in scoring for the Bisons with 10.

Both teams struggled offensively during a physical opening half. The Golden Bears (26-8), who never trailed in the first twenty minutes, sank only 9 of 33 shots. However, they led 26-22 after Harding (29-3) only managed to connect on 8 of 32 from the floor.

CSP, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament champion, led by as many as eight in the opening stanza when Hansen’s jumper gave the Golden Bears a 16-8 edge. Harding pulled within 20-18 with 5:18 left in the half following four consecutive points by Haney, but the Bisons could pull no closer before the break.


Mustangs hold off No. 6 Lions

FORT SMITH — UAFS has had its share of dramatic comebacks this season, but unfortunately for the Lions, their comeback against the Midwestern State Mustangs fell just short Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament.

Trailing by 12 points with less than six minutes left in the game, the No. 6 seed Lions rallied to cut to cut their deficit to as few as two points with 32 seconds left but got no closer as the No. 3 seed Mustangs held on for a 72-66 win at Metro State University’s Auraria Events Center in Denver, Colo.

UAFS, which was making its first-ever appearance in the national tournament since becoming an active NCAA Division II member three seasons ago, ended its season at 21-7.

Freshman guard Alex Cooper, who was coming off a career performance against the University of Texas of the Permian Basin in the first round of the Heartland Conference Tournament, scored on a layup to pull the Lions with 66-64 with 32 seconds left.

Cooper and freshman guard Seth Youngblood had 13 points apiece, while Jake Toupal and junior guard Blake Branham had 12 and 11 points, apiece.

Sophomore forward Kenny Martin and junior forward Miha Glavas had six rebounds apiece for UAFS, which lost the rebounding battle by seven rebounds (52-45).

Wonder Boys end season with loss in opening round

MANKATO, Minn. — Nick Wayman scored 12 points with six rebounds, Marshawn Arnold had six points with five rebounds, and Charles Mells totaled four points and eight rebounds as the Arkansas Tech Wonder Boys (21-10, 15-5 GAC) fell 56-44 to the Central Missouri Mules (25-5) in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Tournament at the Taylor Center on Saturday afternoon.

The Mules started the game on a quick 9-0 run until Marshawn Arnold made a layup at the 15:09 mark. Central Missouri pushed to their largest lead of the first half at 19-8 with 10:05 to play in the first half.

Eight players scored for the Wonder Boys with Wayman finishing with a team-high 12 points. Kendell Pinkney had three assists, Mells had four blocks, and Arnold had two steals in the loss.

Minnesota State-Mankato ends Harding’s postseason run

MANKATO, Minn. — No. 1 seed Minnesota State-Mankato (30-4) shot 61 percent from the field and made 17 3-pointers to defeat No. 8 seed Harding 97-56 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament on Saturday at the Taylor Center.

Harding, in the Central Region Tournament for the second straight season and the champion of the Great American Conference Tournament, had its season end with a 15-15 record.

Senior Hayden Johnson led Harding with 19 points, 11 of them coming in the second half, and added a team-high five rebounds. He finished his career ranked 15th in scoring at Harding with 1,353 points, and he was fifth with 153 career 3-pointers.

GAC Freshman of the Year Will Francis made three 3-pointers and scored 16 points.

A-State falls to Georgia State in SBC semifinals

NEW ORLEANS — The Arkansas State University men’s basketball team saw its hopes for a Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Championship Tournament title dashed Saturday afternoon as the Red Wolves were dealt a 72-45 loss by tourney top seed Georgia State in semifinal-round action at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La.

A-State (19-13 overall) managed to equal last season’s win total (19-12) as the Red Wolves hadn’t won 19 or more games in back-to-back seasons since 1986-89. A-State went 21-13 in 1986-87, 21-14 in 1987-88, and finished 20-10 for the 1988-89 campaign.

Georgia State, the 2013-14 SBC Regular-Season Champion, won its eighth straight as the 25-7 Panthers claimed a 32-24 halftime lead and then proceeded to outscore A-State by 19 points in the second half en route to eliminating the Red Wolves from the conference postseason tournament.

A-State seniors Kendrick Washington and Melvin Johnson III led the Red Wolves in both scoring and rebounding. Washington, a forward, recorded his fifth double-double of this season and second in a row with 12 points and rebounds apiece while Johnson III scored 10 points to go with six boards.

For the game, both teams racked up 33 rebounds apiece while A-State committed 10 turnovers to Georgia State’s three.

A-State tops UALR in four OT

NEW ORLEANS — Arkansas State University’s Melvin Johnson III converted a three-point play with 6.8 seconds left in the fourth overtime for the game winner as the Red Wolves claimed a 116-114 victory over UALR Friday night in Sun Belt Conference (SBC) Championship Tournament Quarterfinal-Round action at Lakefront Arena.

Johnson III, who was one of five A-State players to score double figures, finished with 19 points in a game which was the longest both in Sun Belt Conference and A-State history. The contest featured 23 ties and 31 lead changes as A-State never held more than a three-point advantage throughout the entire contest.

For Johnson III, none was bigger than the senior guard’s three-point play in the final seconds of the fourth overtime as Johnson III sank a free throw after having twisting through the Trojans’ defenders in the paint for a layup and the go ahead basket.

A-State had trailed by a point at 114-113 with 14 seconds left in the fourth overtime after UALR’s Stetson Billings made the second of a two free throws. But, Johnson III’s basket and subsequent free throw made on a Trojans’ foul put the Red Wolves up 116-114 with 6.8 seconds remaining. UALR would have one final opportunity but senior guard Ed Townsel blocked Josh Hagins’ three-point field goal attempt with about two seconds left and the Trojans were unable to get off a shot as the final buzzer sounded.

The Red Wolves managed to send the contest into a fourth overtime as senior guard Brandon Reed sank a pair of free throws with 19 seconds to go after being down 105-103 with under a minutes remaining. Josh Hagins missed a three-pointer with four seconds left and Ed Townsel collected the rebound to end the third session tied all up at 105 apiece.

A-State appeared to have the game won in the second overtime, leading 97-94 with 6.7 seconds left on a Townsel free throw. But, UALR utilized the remaining time as Leroy Isler took the ball down the court and drained a three-pointer midst three A-State defenders with two seconds on the clock as the teams went into the third overtime knotted at 97-all. In the first overtime, the Red Wolves trailed 89-87 with 1:28 to be played following a Josh Hagins’ jumper. However, A-State accounted for the final points as senior forward Kirk Van Slyke made both of his free throws with 29 ticks left on the clock to extend the game.

Townsel’s career-high 32 points paced A-State while Kirk Van Slyke pumped in 24 points and Brandon Reed had 19. Washington recorded his fourth double-double of this season with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Isler scored a career-best 25 points in his final game with five rebounds and two assists. Sophomore James White scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime period. Hagins added 20 points and seven rebounds while freshman Mareik Isom scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds. Junior DeVonte Smith totaled 14 points, five assists and five steals while Maurius Hill scored 12 off the bench.