Melvin Johnson III scored the game- winning layup with seven seconds remaining in the fourth overtime period to lead the fourth-seeded Arkansas State Red Wolves over fifth-seeded Arkansas- Little Rock Trojans in quadruple-overtime, 116-114, in the quarterfinal round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at New Orleans Lakefront Arena.
Johnson III finished with 19 points for the Red Wolves (19-12), who were paced by Ed Townsel with 32 points. Kirk Van Slyke added 24 points and nine rebounds, Brandon Reed scored 23 and Kendrick Washington chipped in with 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Red Wolves move on to the semifinals to face the top-seeded Georgia State Panthers on Saturday.
Leroy Isler led the Trojans (15-17) with 25 points, while James White dropped in 20 points, Josh Hagins posted a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Mareik Isom and Devonte Smith each scored 14 and Maurius Hill tallied 12 points.
UALR shot 45.2 percent from the field to start the game, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Trojans also connected on 10-of-11 from the free-throw line to take a 41-37 lead into intermission. Arkansas State hit on 42.9 percent of its field goal tries, and connected on 6-of-12 from 3-point range in the first half to keep the game close.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the second half. The Trojans shot just 39.1 percent, but did drain 4-of-6 from 3-point range. The Red Wolves were even worse from the field, hitting on just 37.9 percent and 3-of-10 from beyond the arc. Trailing by six, 76-70, with 1:20 to play in regulation, ASU scored seven straight points, going ahead on a layup by Johnson III to take a 77-76 lead with just eight seconds on the clock. White was then fouled with two seconds left, but could make only 1-of-2 from the free-throw line to tie the game. A Rakeem Dickerson layup in the final second was blocked by White, sending the game to overtime tied at 77-77.
In the first extra session, neither team was able to go ahead by more than two points. Slyke tied it for the Red Wolves with two free-throws with 29 seconds to play and the game went to double-overtime knotted at 89-89 when a jumper by Reed with two seconds left was off the mark. After Townsel sank 1-of-2 free- throws with seven seconds left in double-overtime to give the Red Wolves a 97-94 lead, Isler drained a 3-pointer with just two seconds on the clock to send the game into triple-overtime with the score 97-97.
With the Red Wolves leading 105-103 courtesy of two free-throws with 28 seconds remaining in the third overtime, Reed tied the game at 105-105 just nine seconds later, and after Hagins missed a 3-pointer with four seconds left, the game entered its fourth overtime period. In the final extra session, Stetson Billings put the Trojans up by one with 14 seconds on the clock, but Johnson III was fouled scoring a layup with seven seconds left. After he made the free-throw to give the Red Wolves a two-point lead. Hagins was long on an off-balance 3-pointer with two seconds remaining as the Red Wolves pulled out the marathon victory.
The Red Wolves set the record for most points in a Sun Belt Conference Tournament game, besting the previous mark of 107, set by Troy against Arkansas State in 2006. ASU forced 15 turnovers and converted them into 21 points. The two teams combined to make 67 free throws in the contest.