BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (2/23/12) - The Arkansas State men's basketball team held a commanding advantage on the boards, outrebounding Western Kentucky 39-17, but a three-pointer from WKU's TJ Price with just over two seconds left gave the Hilltoppers a 79-76 win over the Red Wolves Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The game was closely contested and featured 15 ties and 16 lead changes as the Red Wolves moved to 12-18 with a 6-9 Sun Belt record. The Hilltoppers improved to 10-18 with a 6-9 league mark.
Senior forward Malcoln Kirkland led all scorers with 22 points going 8-12 from the floor and 6-6 from the charity stripe. In total, three ASU players scored in double-figures as freshman forward Darion Griswold scored a career-high 15 and junior guard Trey Finn added 14.
Western Kentucky led by six with just 4:19 left in the game, but ASU used a 6-0 run to tie the game at 67-67 on a layup by sophomore point guard Ed Townsel. The game would tie twice more after a pair of Brandon Peterson free throws, 69-69 and when Griswold laid the ball in with 17-seconds left, 76-76.
Peterson tied his career-high with 13 boards and was 8-8 from the free throw line, finishing with eight points.
Arkansas State led by five early in the first half, but took a 38-34 lead into the locker room at the break. The Red Wolves held WKU without a double-digit scorer in the first half while Kirkland led ASU with 12, and Finn had 10.
During the first half ASU was 14-29 from the floor shooting 48.3% from the floor. In the second half the Red Wolves connected on 7-25 for 28%. ASU connected on 31-38 from the charity stripe for 81.6% in the game.
"It was disappointing really," said ASU head coach John Brady. "I don't know if I have ever experienced this many close games and only be able to get one. Our team continues to play hard; I won't fault anyone's effort or what we tried to do. We have really played well the last four games."
George Fant led four Hilltoppers in double-digit scoring with 19. WKU shot 26-46 from the floor for 56.5% from the floor.
ASU will wrap up the regular season with a trip to instate rival UALR on Saturday. Tip off at the Jack Stephens Center is set for 7 p.m.