HILLTOPPERS' COMEBACK EFFORT FALLS SHORT IN 75-72 LOSS TO BELMONT
Two free throws by WKU redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden tied it at 68-68 with 1:33 to play, but Belmont's Amanze Egekeze hit his team's final – and most crucial – 3-pointer to retake the lead.
WKU's only basket the rest of the way was a putback by senior forward Justin Johnson at the buzzer.
Belmont (8-5) made 14 of 36 3-pointers in its victory, led by 19 points and 11 rebounds from Dylan Windler.
Johnson, Bearden and freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth all had 16 points for the Hilltoppers (7-5), while Johnson also grabbed nine rebounds.
Senior forward Dwight Coleby added 11 points and eight rebounds.
WKU led for the first seven minutes until Belmont began to heat up from 3-point range.
The Bruins used a 15-4 run to turn a 12-10 WKU lead into a 25-16 Belmont advantage, and they led again by nine before Hollingsworth's bucket at the buzzer trimmed the Hilltoppers' halftime deficit to 33-26.
After WKU fell behind 53-41 with 12:56 left, the Hilltoppers began to whittle away at their deficit and got within 65-63 with 3:05 to play after back-to-back baskets from Johnson.
After Belmont hit a 3-pointer, WKU freshman guard Jake Ohmer scored on a three-point play, and Bearden's two free throws knotted it up at 68-all.
But Belmont had one 3-pointer left in its arsenal to take the upper hand for good.
WKU outscored the Bruins 52-20 in the paint and 17-7 in points off turnover, but couldn't match Belmont's 3-point prowess with a 1-of-12 showing of its own from behind the arc.
WKU concludes nonconference play at Austin Peay at 7 p.m. CT Friday in Clarksville, Tenn. The Hilltoppers will then open Conference USA action at home against LA Tech on Dec. 28.