Rudy Sims led Arkansas State with 19 points and seven assists Saturday to lead the sixth-seeded Lady Indians to a 76-67 victory over No. 3 seed Western Kentucky University in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Conference women’s basketball tournament at the Cajundome.
Adrianne Davie chipped in with 17 points and five rebounds as five ASU (20-11) players reached double digits in the scoring column to help avenge a five-point home loss to the Lady Toppers (20-8) late in January.
Crystal Kelly paced WKU with 21 points and 14 rebounds — both game-high totals — while Dominque Duck returned after missing three full games with injury to post 12 points and a career-high 12 boards for her first double-double of the season.
Although the Lady Toppers outrebounded ASU, 46-25, they committed 24 turnovers and were just 3-of-11 at the free-throw line. The Lady Indians made 22-of-29 at the foul line, and they were charged with only 11 turnovers.
A Sarah Shouse layup with 11-and-a-half minutes remaining pulled WKU to within one, 51-50, but ASU ran off 12 of the next 15 points to break open the contest. Ali Carter’s three one minute later sparked the run, with Veronica Smith collecting five and Sims adding three including a pair of free throws at 6:26 that left ASU ahead 63-54.
Carter, Smith and Caroline Starr all collecting 11 points for ASU.
Duck’s layup with just over six minutes to go cut the WKU deficit to 64-58, but the Lady Indians pushed the lead back out to as many as 11 points before a three from the top of the key by Kenzie Rich made the score 72-67 with 45 seconds remaining.
Rich finished with 18 points, going 7-of-14 from the floor.
The Lady Toppers never trailed in the first half as a Rich three on the opening possession sparked a 10-2 game-opening run over the first 2:46 of the game. WKU was never able to extend the advantage into double figures, but built a half-high lead of nine when a Crystal Kelly three-point play made it 15-6 four minutes into the game.
WKU shot 53.6 percent in the opening period, but saw Arkansas State stay close, scoring six straight to cut the lead to three on an Ali Carter three. The Lady Toppers came right back with a 5-2 run to stretch the lead to 21-14, but six straight Lady Indian points got them within one when a Rudy Sims layup made it 21-20 with 8:42 to go before intermission.
Brianne Brown came out and scored the next five points to push the advantage back out to six, and WKU saw the lead grow to 29-22 when Rich knocked down her third three of the half. Again Arkansas State answered, scoring eight of the next nine, and tied the game at 30-30 on back-to-back threes by Sims and Brittney Hiles with 3:21 on the clock. The Lady Toppers never allowed ASU to pull in front, however, as they were able to cling to a 36-34 lead heading into the locker room