NEW ORLEANS — The Arkansas State women's basketball team will play in a postseason tournament for the first time since 2007. The Red Wolves fell just short of the tournament they preferred, though.
ASU was held to four points over the final seven minutes and Western Kentucky came back to shock the top-seeded Red Wolves for a 61-60 victory in Saturday's Sun Belt Conference tournament final at Lakefront Arena.
ASU (22-11) will qualify for the WNIT tournament by virtue of its regular-season Sun Belt title. But the Red Wolves fell just short of their first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. That, instead will go to the Hilltoppers, who ended Saturday's final on a 17-4 run over the final seven minutes.
Aundrea Gamble had 22 points and 13 rebounds for ASU, while Jane Morrill had 14 points and Hanna Qedan added 10.
Playing in the Sun Belt final for the first time since 1992, ASU shot 41 percent from the floor, but was held to two baskets over the final seven minutes. Carlisha Wyatt's putback with 1:38 left gave ASU a 60-59 lead, but Western Kentucky's Kendall Noble scored a basket inside over Morrill to take back the lead 61-60 with 1:21 left.
With time running down, Gamble drove the left side of the lane and her layup fell off the side of the backboard and ASU didn't get another shot off.
Chastity Gooch had 26 points and 12 rebounds for Western Kentucky and Noble had 12 points.