WKU Wins Against Revenge-Seeking Herd

01/28/2018 01:13 AM

By Ryan Dearbone

Last season, Marshall (14-7, 5-3 Conference USA) came into Diddle Arena and beat WKU (15-6, 7-1 in Conference USA) in tough game. Then a few weeks ago the Tops played arguably a perfect game on Marshall’s home court, hammering the Herd 112-87. So to think the Thundering Herd was going to let the Tops roll over them again this season was a pipe dream.

“They did something we couldn’t do. They beat Middle Tennessee. We knew how good Marshall could be,” notes WKU head coach, Rick Stansbury.

The Hilltoppers hardly played the style of basketball which led to the blowout win in West Virginia. Just like in their previous game against Middle Tennessee, the Tops were guilty of several mental mistakes and sloppy play at times.

Throughout the game, the Tops were bodied down low. Marshall seemed to be the more aggressive squad for a majority of the game. Marshall’s junior guard CJ Burks led the way for the Thundering Herd with 29 points and drained six 3-pointers on the Tops.

The Tops would carry a 4 point lead into the half. The second half would see WKU sputter even more, eventually relinquishing the lead for most of the frame. WKU would continue to try to push the issue under the basket. WKU forward Dwight Coleby battled for 18 points and guard Darius Thompson attacked the basket to lead the Tops with 20 points. Stansbury felt that helped change the flow of the game.

However, Stansbury called out the officiating as “inconsistent on both sides” as 45 fouls were doled out between the two teams.

The Tops would battle back and forth with Marshall for the lead in the second half. Then the Tops, led by Lexington product, Taveion Hollingsworth and senior Justin Johnson went on a 15-nothing run to shut the door on Marshall 85-74.

Another obstacle the Tops overcame to pick up the victory was several sick players like Thompson and fellow guard, Lamonte Bearden, who battled strep throat all week.

“I didn’t feel the best but I would do whatever it would take for us to win,” admitted Bearden, who finished with 12 points and several timely baskets at the end of the game.

Once again, Diddle Arena was sold out for Saturday’s game and Thompson joked he knew they had to win because if they didn’t win against Marshall and lost 2 in a row at home, there would never be another sold out game in Diddle Arena.

The Tops will now travel to Texas to face UTEP (7-14, 2-7 Conference USA) on Thursday night. They are currently tied with Old Dominion near the top of Conference USA with rival MTSU ahead of them by one game.

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