NEW ORLEANS (AP) Elfrid Payton scored 23 points, including the go-ahead layup with 1:16 left, as third-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette beat No. 2 seed Western Kentucky 73-72 Saturday in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference tournament.
Payton had a chance to put Louisiana up by three with 11 seconds left, but his runner was short. Western Kentucky’s T.J. Price grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast but missed the game-winning layup at the buzzer.
Payton was 11 of 15 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds, had nine assists and four steals for Louisiana (22-11). Bryant Mbamalu also had 23 points.
George Fant and Price had 16 apiece for Western Kentucky (20-12).
WKU’s press defense forced a turnover leading to Chris Harrison-Docks’ third consecutive 3-pointer to give the Hilltoppers a 70-69 with 2:48 left. But WKU made just 2 of 6 free throws down the stretch.
Louisiana will play top-seeded Georgia State Sunday in the championship.