Once again Western Kentucky had just seven players available. Once again Western Kentucky had few problems.
The Hilltoppers finished their exhibition season with three wins, the latest being a 109-66 beat down of visiting Cumberland on Tuesday at E.A. Diddle Arena. They open the season at 7 p.m. against Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Missouri State
Tuesday, redshirt-junior guard Lamonte Bearden was still held out with an ankle injury. Freshman guard Josh Anderson and redshirt-sophomore forward Moustapha Diagne have still not been cleared to play the NCAA.
Western still eased to victory, ending the first half on a massive run to take a commanding lead and then causing from there. Senior forward Justin Johnson scored 21 to go along with seven rebounds and freshman guards Taveion Hollingsworth and Jake Ohmer each added 21 as well.
Freshman forward Marek Nelson chipped in 11 and senior forward Dwight Coleby had 17 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Darius Thompson had 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists and the Tops had 25 assists on 42 made field goals.
Western Kentucky beat Samford, Campbellsville and Cumberland in three exhibitions by an average margin of 32.6.
Final stats tonight pic.twitter.com/VaWpEIPsP9— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) November 8, 2017
Cumberland took an early 7-4 lead on the strength of a Andrew Rogan 3 from the left wing. But a layup by Nelson and four straight from Hollingsworth put WKU back up 10-7 four minutes into the game.
Those buckets were part of a 10-0 run that included a three-point play from Thompson and a fastbreak dunk by Nelson giving Western a 17-7 lead. Cumberland clawed its way back to 22-16 on Ty Sean Powell’s layup only before the Tops used an 8-2 run highlighted by Coleby’s block that led to Johnson’s outlet pass to Ohmer for an easy layup.
The Phoenix cut the deficit to 32-26 on a Will Shelton layup, but two down low from Nelson, a Coleby putback and a Ohmer layup off a steal pushed the advantage back out to 40-26 with 3:38 to go in the opening stanza.
Those plays helped spurn a 23-2 run to end the half and give WKU a 55-28 lead going into the break. Ohmer drained a left-wing 3 as time expired to give the Hilltoppers their biggest lead of the night.
Western shot 61.8 percent in the first half and had nine assists on 21 makes. Ohmer and Hollingsworth combined for 28.
Halftime stats pic.twitter.com/mTLOn7ytey— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) November 8, 2017
The Hilltoppers quickly spurted ahead by 21 in the early goings of the second half thanks to a Johnson 3 at the top of the key. Thompson’s 3 from the left wing followed by a Thompson alley-oop to Coleby minutes later gave WKU a 73-43 lead.
Cumberland didn’t have enough left to mount a comeback.
Diondrey Holt from Jeffersontown High School led CU with 13.
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop