Hilltoppers open conference play with a pair of matchups with Marshall


The second season has officially arrived! The non-conference schedules have wrapped up, and today, both the mens and womens Hilltoppers basketball teams will square off against Marshall to kick off their first season of Conference USA play.

Ray Harper’s men finished the non-conference slate with a 7-5 record and closed out the stretch with a pair of large victories over NAIA teams. The absolute worst case scenario for the Tops’ is that they get used to facing easy competition, and get out to a sluggish start to the Herd and can’t come back because of the deep hole they’ve dug.

AHHH. Sorry, I must have been dreaming a nightmare or something. Anyway, the Tops get back to action with an NCAA opponent, and their first ever C-USA conference opponent comes in the form of a 4-9 Marshall Thundering Herd squad, whose lone wins so far this season Jacksonville State, Savannah State, West Virginia Tech and King University. Wait, what?

The Herd are in the middle of a tough stretch, having lost nine of their last 10 and are on a three game slide to Arkansas State (yes, our old pals), Nevada and Akron. Their trip to Bowling Green is the last of a four game road trip. Ryan Taylor is the name to know and keep in mind, as he leads the Herd in both points (14.1) and rebounds (8.5) per game.

If the Tops want to stay on top of things early and often, they’ll have to look to T.J. Price for consistent play and another big night. The senior comes in averaging 16.8 points and just under four assists per game. Also shooting the daylights out of the basketball is Chris Harrison-Docks, who not only has had a multi-three point game in 25 games with a WKU jersey on, but has made 26 of his last 29 free throws. Also, if George Fant is to get the start (which, why wouldn’t he?), it’d be his 103rd for the Tops. Pretty impressive.

Tip off in Diddle is at 2:00.

However, before things get underway in Diddle, in West Virginia we’ll have another meeting between WKU and Marshall, as Michelle Clark-Heard and her 11-2 Lady Toppers will open their C-USA schedule against the 8-3 Lady Herd.

Marshall is currently in the midst of a five game home winning streak, and a win over the Lady Tops would be tie the longest home streak at six from Nov. of 2009 to Jan. of 2010. The Lady Herd are lead by Leah Scott, who contributes 15.6 points per game, and Chukwuka Ezeigbo who grabs 10 per outing.

Its been quite some time since we updated you on the Lady Toppers, but they’ve been doing just fine. Winners of nine straight, they’re lead by – you guessed it – C-USA Preseason Player of the Year Chastity Gooch with 18.5 points per game. Kendall Noble is leading the way on the glass with 8.5 boards per game and Micah Jones is dishing out nearly five assists per contest. Also of note, Ileana Johnson has played her way into the starting line up and is averaging around three points per game.

Its a full day of hoops for the Hilltoppers (and Lady Toppers), and the dawn of a new era is nearly upon us. How exciting is that!

Next: If The Tops Want Success in C-USA, They'll Need Help From an Unlikely Place