Johnson Lifts AState Past UALR in 4th OT

Melvin Johnson III's running floater and free throw make with 6 seconds left in the 4th overtime was enough for Arkansas State to come away victorious and live to play another day.

The Red Wolves-UALR was historic. The 4 overtime thriller was the longest game ever in the Sun Belt tournament, the longest in Sun Belt history and the longest in A-State history.

Coach John Brady stated that he had never been involved in a 4OT game and it was unique to do so. Brady also commented on how pleased he was with his team's performance tonight:

"I was proud of our guys for finding a way to win" he said "especially in a rivalry game."

Brady believed tonight's contest was great game for the conference and the state of Arkansas. "This was a great game for the conference" he said. "This was the type of game that if someone was flipping through channels and they saw the score they would tune in."

Brady added he thinks this is best rivalry in the state of Arkansas and nothing is close to it. The Red Wolves, who advance to Saturday's 2 p.m. semifinal, were lead in scoring by senior guard Ed Townsel, who scored 32 in 60 minutes of action. Despite playing 60 minutes, Townsel said that he feels fine and will be ready to go tomorrow:

"I'm a little tired" he said, "But a long night of rest will be good and I'll be ready to go tomorrow."

Melvin Johnson also said, despite the physical play of the game, he would be good to go after a good night of sleep.

The Red Wolves knew going in that UALR was a very physical basketball team, and that was something Johnson and Townsel didn't take lightly.

"I knew UALR would try to rough me up" said Johnson. "They were very physical and put their best defender on me and second best on Ed."

Townsel had this to say about the physicality of UALR: "I knew they were going to be physical" stated Townsel "But, I really feel like we answered the bell."

The Red Wolves did indeed answer the bell and Brady said that in postgame presser.

"We didn't settle down the stretch" he said. "I am really proud of our team"

Brady was especially proud of how his team executed the winning play.

"We executed the last situation perfectly" he said. "We wanted MJ (Melvin Johnson) with the ball and Kirk (Van Slyke) to down screen. I wanted the ball in Melvin Johnson's hands"

Johnson's scored and hit a free throw with six second left to give the Red Wolves a 116-114 lead. With UALR getting one final possession, Townsel and Cam Golden shut down Shawn Haggins, who never got off a shot for an attempted victory.

Townsel led with way with 32 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and just 1 turnover in 60 minutes. Kirk Van Slyke, in 48 minutes, had 24 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks and 2 steals. Brandon Reed, 23 points, 3 steals and 4 assists and Johnson 19 points.

Johnson and Townsel both stated that they didn't want to go home and wanted to win for the rest of their fellow seniors.

"I've only been here 1 year and it's been hard" stated Johnson "I wanted to win for the guys who have been here. We don't want to go home."

The Red Wolves will get another crack at it Saturday afternoon when they face Georgia State.

While the Red Wolves faced a team tonight that was very physical and played a tight defense, Brady doesn't expect the same tomorrow.

"They haven't pressed all year" stated Brady, "so, I don't think they will tomorrow. They don't have enough time to put that in."

While Georgia State may not be a physical team defensively, they are explosive offensively, "They are very good offensively" Brady said. "They're very efficient."

The Red Wolves lost both contests to Georgia State this season by a combined 4 points. A-sAte will look to avenge both losses and advance to Sunday's championship game, which is set for noon on Sunday at Lakefront Arena.