Toppers beat Boston College in NIT opener 79-62

Toppers beat Boston College in NIT opener 79-62


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball kept its season alive with a dominant performance Tuesday night, routing ACC foe Boston College 79-62 in a first-round NIT home game at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Hilltoppers (25-10) shot 55.4 percent from the field and held Boston College to 38.5 percent, picking up their first NIT victory since a 2005 win over Kent State.

That win over Kent State was also the last time WKU hosted an NIT game, picking up where they left off with a strong showing in front of 6,176 fans at Diddle Arena on Tuesday.

The Hilltoppers will either travel to No. 1 seed USC or host No. 8 UNC Asheville in the second round at a date and time to be determined. Those teams play late Tuesday evening in California.

Senior forward Justin Johnson led WKU with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his 39th career double-double, while freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth finished with 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Late in the game, Hollingsworth passed Courtney Lee for the most points ever scored in a season by a Hilltopper freshman with 464 points.

Senior guard Darius Thompson added 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden chipped in 10 points.

Boston College (19-16) led 26-21 early in the second quarter, but WKU went on a 7-0 run, pulling in front 28-26 at the 6:50 mark on a 3-pointer by Hollingsworth.

The Hilltoppers then finished the first half on an 11-2 spurt, including nine straight points. Johnson's layup just before the buzzer made it 41-33 WKU at the break.

The Hilltoppers shot 61.5 percent in the first half and held Boston College to nine points in the second quarter.

WKU brought Diddle Arena to life with three straight dunks early in the third quarter and eventually led by as much as 17 with 7:24 to play.

The Hilltoppers outscored Boston College 40-26 in the paint and 15-2 on the fast break.

Ky Bowman paced the Eagles with 18 points.