Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ-- Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns guard Elfrid Payton (2) grabs the game sealing rebound under Western Kentucky Hilltoppers basket in the closing seconds of the game as as they play in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Championship at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La. Saturday, March 15, 2014. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers forward George Fant (44) tries to get the ball surrounded by Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns guard Xavian Rimmer (3), Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns forward Elridge Moore (22) and Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns center J.J. Davenport (44). The Ragin Cajuns won 73-72.

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.