Lady Toppers lose late lead again to Arkansas State, fall 78-75 in overtime

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team led Arkansas State by eight with 5:44 to play and by four with 44 seconds left Wednesday night, but ASU hit a late 3 to tie the game and won 78-75 in overtime in Jonesboro, Ark.

The loss was the fifth straight for the Lady Toppers (14-7 overall, 6-4 Sun Belt Conference) against Arkansas State (14-8, 8-2), which kept its place atop the league standings.

WKU’s five straight losses to ASU have all been decided by five points or less. Kendall Noble led the Lady Tops with 27 points, while Chastity Gooch added 15 points and eight rebounds. Micah Jones and Bria Gaines added 10 points apiece.

Here are coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s postgame comments by phone:

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD

End of the game: “We missed some key rebounds late, which came back to bite us again. You’ve got to find ways to win on the road, and I’m just really disappointed because our kids played their tails off.”

Noble’s effort: “I challenge her every day. I told her before we came out on the road that I needed her to have the mentality of being aggressive. The things she can do are hard to guard. She’s very good at going to the basket, lulling people to sleep and getting people to foul her.”

More on the game: “I’m proud of our team, but this is a tough loss. We’ve lost four times to them now, and they’ve all been super-close. It’s just a tough loss.”

Play of Bria Gaines: “I’m really proud of Bria, because I’ve been talking to her about stepping up. We’ll just keep continuing to put her in those situations so she can grow.”

At UALR on Saturday: “It’s going to be a huge challenge. They take care of their home court, and they always play very well. We’re going to have to correct some things and make sure we can get some stops and do the things we need to.”

The fact that Alexis Govan’s absence can’t be an excuse anymore: “That’s what I talk to the team about, and that’s what they understand. I’m wishing just like everybody, and the team is wishing. As soon as Alexis can get back, it’s going to be great. But we’re 10 games into the conference, and we can’t be in close situations like we are and not figure out a way to win.”

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