Fired Up WKU Squad Demolishes Old Dominion on Senior Night

02/24/2018 11:31 PM

by Ryan Dearbone

Don’t let the final score fool you. The game on the court wasn’t even that close. WKU (22-7, C-USA 14-2) and Old Dominion (22-6, C-USA) came into Saturday’s game trying to move into the second spot in the conference behind Middle Tennessee, in hopes of eventually stealing the conference regular season crown.

The sold out WKU crowd heaped praise on Seniors Dwight Coleby and Darius Thompson during their pre-game tributes, but bestowed the loudest cheers for 4-year senior and team leader, Justin Johnson. After Johnson hoisted his framed jersey in the air, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his longtime girlfriend (she said yes!)

Johnson turned that “lovers bliss” into momentum to push WKU to and early 6-0 lead against the Monarchs. Johnson torched the Monarchs for 17 in the first half.

“We’ve been together so long now, that it’s to the point of either get married now or start kicking to the curb,” Johnson said jokingly after the game. WKU Coach Rick Stansbury said, “My only question to Justin was ‘Is she going to say yes?’ That’s the most important thing. She said yes.”

From there, the Tops kept pouring gasoline on the fire. Coach Rick Stansbury said the Tops really couldn’t have played much better in the first half. Johnson finished the first frame with 17 points and 5 defensive rebounds.

The Tops went into halftime with a commanding 46-30 lead. The second half wasn’t much different for the Tops, only the floor general changed.

Lexington freshman, Taveion Hollingsworth started the second half fast and furious and added 15 points to give him 20 for the game. Also stepping up big for the Tops was Lamonte Bearden, who looked sharp on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

Coleby and Thompson both chipped in 11 points apiece in their swan song at E.A. Diddle Arena. At one point WKU had pushed the lead to 28, showing off all of their arsenal in a spectacular and entertaining way. The Tops put Old Dominion to bed with a very convincing 88-66 win and ended the Monarchs’ 9 game road winning streak, which had been the longest in the nation.

“We’re all excited about the win and we’re supposed to be. We did what we’re supposed to do. Now it’s on to the next one”, Coach Stansbury pointed out.

WKU’s blowout of ODU moves them past the Monarchs into sole possession of second place in Conference USA. However, the Tops don’t get a break as they travel to Murfreesboro on Thursday night to take on their rivals, 24th ranked, Middle Tennessee (23-5, C-USA 15-1), who beat WKU by 4 points in January and is currently riding a 10-game win streak.

Ever the thoughtful leader, as he has been for the past 4 years, Johnson says the Tops can have a huge night on Thursday, if only they take away lessons learned from Saturday night’s powerful showing. “If we play like that, we control our own fate… mentally and physically we are in a great place right now.”

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