HILLTOPPERS MOVE TO 9-3 IN LEAGUE PLAY WITH 81-76 WIN OVER TROY
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. —
WKU led by 16 points in the second half and fended off a furious Troy rally to
win its seventh game in the last eight outings, 81-76 over the Trojans Thursday
night at E.A. Diddle Arena. The win moves WKU's record to 17-8 overall and 9-3
in Sun Belt Conference play, and Troy falls to 8-15 and 3-8 with the loss.
T.J. Price led WKU with 22 points, and George Fant added 16 and six rebounds. O'Karo Akamune set a new career high with 10 points, and Payton Hulsey had a career-best nine rebounds to go along with seven points. Troy was led by Hunter Williams' 22 points, and he made six three-pointers.
WKU led 26-21 with about five minutes to go in the half, and the Hilltoppers then went on a quick 9-0 scoring burst to open up a 35-21 lead with 2:55 to play. Troy closed to 35-24 at the break.
Fant and T. Price combined for 14 first-half points on 5-of-5 shooting, and seven other Hilltoppers scored. Troy was paced by Williams' seven points. WKU shot 44.0 percent in the first half (11-for-25), and the Hilltoppers outrebounded the Trojans 23-12.
Troy cut the lead to seven points, 41-34, with 13 minutes left in the game on an 8-0 run and six points at 43-37 a minute later, but WKU quickly answered with four-straight of its own to re-open a double-digit lead at 47-37 with 11:47 left in the contest.
The Hilltopper run extended to 10-0 after a three-point play by T. Price and a long three-pointer by Caden Dickerson, making the score 53-37 in favor of WKU and forcing Troy to call a timeout.
But the Trojans would not go quietly, as they came within six points at 74-68 with a minute to go and five points at 76-71 with 49.9 ticks showing. A Williams three-pointer made the score 78-74 with just 32 seconds remaining, but the Trojans would get no closer as three free throws down the stretch sealed the win for the Hilltoppers.
Chris Harrison-Docks made five free throws in the game before missing his final attempt, ending his consecutive free throw streak at 25.
WKU outrebounded Troy in the game, 42-31. The Hilltoppers made 28-of-32 free throw tries in the contest (.875), their second-best outing from the line of the season.
WKU shot 44.4 percent (24-for-54) in the game.
HEAD COACH CORNER
WKU head coach Ray Harper:
"I thought we played well at times and did some really good things. I don't know what else you could do on some of those threes down the stretch. Give them credit; they made some tough shots late. Other than that, they didn't really make a lot of threes during the course of the game. I thought we did a good job defending them and sometimes when you're down and you're just throwing shots up, they seem to go in and they did there at the end of the game for Troy."
Troy head coach Phil Cunningham:
"I'm proud of the way our guys battled back and got back in the game, but we're disappointed we got down like we did. We just never could make a timely shot when we were trying to make a run. I thought WKU was really good tonight. T.J. Price was really good. He hits, as it turns out, the shot of the game when he hits that running bank shot right there as the shot clock expired. The guy who is making them so good right now is ‘O' (O'Karo Akamune). He is making them so good because he's so athletic. What happens is everybody concentrates on George (Fant). They either double George in the post, or they're constantly trying to help on screening action and nobody is blocking (Akamune) out. He's killing folks, and he got us tonight and made some big plays."
WKU concludes the week with a 7:00 PM (CT) game against South Alabama on Saturday. Saturday's game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and regionally on WKU PBS and WBNA. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network, airing locally in Bowling Green on WKLX-FM Sam 100.7, with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
The game on Saturday is a White Out, and the first 1,000 fans into E.A. Diddle Arena will receive a free WKU White Out t-shirt. An exciting performance by Fire Trix Stix will take place at halftime, and all Big Red's Rascals will receive a complimentary admission to the game. In addition, the Party One Zone for Kids will be open in the upper concourse, as it will be every Saturday home game throughout the season.
Single-game tickets for the 2013-14 season and various multiple-game packages are on sale now. Fans interested in purchasing single-game tickets or multiple-game packages can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.
Official release from WKU sports information