TOPS TAKE SOLE POSSESSION OF C-USA LEAD WITH 77-69 WIN OVER UAB
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball sits alone atop the Conference USA standings after defeating UAB 77-69 on Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
With UAB up 67-64 with 4:36 to play, the Hilltoppers (14-5 overall, 6-0 C-USA) went on an 11-0 run to surge ahead and were able to ice the victory at the free-throw line.
The win was WKU's seventh straight overall and its sixth straight against UAB (13-6, 4-2) in Bowling Green.
The biggest swing came when freshman guard Jake Ohmer was fouled on a 3-pointer with 3:49 left, and UAB was called for a technical.
Ohmer made four of the five possible free throws to put WKU back in front 69-67, and the Hilltoppers scored six straight on top of that to pull away in front of a crowd of 5,643 – the largest of the season.
Senior forward Justin Johnson led WKU with 18 points and eight rebounds, and senior forward Dwight Coleby tallied his eighth double-double with 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Freshman guard Josh Anderson scored 12 points off the bench, while fellow freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth added 11 points. Senior guard Darius Thompson had 10 points and five assists.
The first half was full of spurts, starting with a 13-4 burst from WKU to open the action.
UAB answered with its own 9-0 run and pulled in front at 19-18 on a 3-pointer by Jalen Perry, but WKU rattled off a 13-2 run to take its largest lead of the frame at 31-21 at the 4:25 mark.
The Blazers scored 10 straight points to tie the game at 31-all, but Johnson completed a three-point play, and Thompson got a steal and a dunk just before the buzzer to make it 36-31 Hilltoppers at the break.
UAB took control to start the second half with a 15-4 run, powering ahead 46-42 with 15:04 left, and the Blazers protected that lead until a 7-0 run by WKU, capped by a steal and layup from freshman guard Jake Ohmer to make it 64-63 with 6:13 remaining.
UAB scored the next two buckets, but the Hilltoppers punched back with the knockout blow.
WKU shot 56 percent in the second half and 48.2 percent for the game, and netted 20 of 29 free throws. UAB attempted and made just three free throws.
The Hilltoppers host Middle Tennessee – the two-time defending league champion – at 6 p.m. CT Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena.