Hilltoppers extend win streak to four games in wild 74-66 victory over Charlotte


The Hilltoppers are now winners of four straight, winners of five of their last six and eight of their last ten and, most importantly, are 2-o to begin conference play after winning a wild game over the Charlotte 49ers, 74-66.

The Tops started the game hot, hitting eight of their first 11 shots and started the game nine of 14 from behind the three point line and taking a 14 point lead at 30-16. But, the final nine minutes saw the 49ers go on a 24-9 run that helped bring them all the way back and tie the game at 40 at halftime.

The second half started worse than the first half ended – if you can believe it. Alex Rostov opened the scoring with a 16-foot jump shot (his only points of the game) to momentarily re-give the Tops’ a lead, but their next basket didn’t come until nearly six minutes later, when Trency Jackson drained a three, which would be followed by a T.J. Price three that put him past Courtney Lee for second place on the WKU all-time three point list.

Once the Tops got back to within a point, that would be about where they’d stay. The 9ers would get a bucket or two to go up five or six, but just like that the Hilltoppers would answer and come back within a point. The Tops wouldn’t take the lead again until the 6:36 mark when Chris Harrison-Docks hit a three to give WKU a two point lead, and from there, it was back and forth until the 4:19 mark, when Justin Johnson put back a third-chance point for WKU to go up 63-62, and they wouldn’t look back en route to the 74-66 final score.

It was a real good game in just about every aspect for the Tops’ except for one category – rebounding. When it was all said and done, the margin was 49-29 in favor of Charlotte, but it was way worse than that might seem, and WKU got a lot of rebounds in the closing moments when the 49ers were putting up desperate shots to cut into the Tops’ lead. Charlotte got 15 offensive boards, but were only able to convert them into nine points. The Tops were also out-rebounded 34-23 on the defensive glass.

Where the Hilltoppers truly excelled tonight was in turnovers, where they had four. All game. And, all coming in the second half. Compare that to 16 to Charlotte, and a fair number of those coming when they could have hit a bucket to extend it to an eight or nine point lead, and they truly came back to haunt the visitors.

The Tops were lead in scoring by, who else, but Price and George FantT.J. lead all Hilltoppers with 21 points and George added 18, and had a spectacular night at the free throw line (well, by George Fant standards at least). Jackson and CHD also had double figures, each with 15. The Tops bench didn’t help much. As a matter of fact, they combined for three points. Three. And all of them belonged to Johnson.

At times, it looked like a game that WKU had no business losing. Then, at others, it looked like one that the Tops had no business winning. But, they put it together when it mattered most and now look ahead to a huge test, the 25th ranked Old Dominion Monarchs, coming into Diddle on Saturday.

Next: WKU Was One of Four Teams to Move to 2-0 In Conference Play