Hilltoppers Too Much for Tigers; Give McDonald First Career Victory

By: Brad Fields, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Brad Fields, WKU Athletic Media Relations

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky University (1-1) scored the first 12 points of the game and was never threatened by Campbellsville University (1-3) in posting a 62-48 win in the Hilltoppers' 2008-09 home opener on Tuesday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena. Bouncing back from Saturday's loss at Houston, WKU gave new head coach Ken McDonald his first career victory.

Orlando Mendez-Valdez knocked down a fallaway three-pointer from the top of the key as the shot clock expired to cap the 12-0 run to open the game with 14:21 on the clock. The Toppers connected on four of their first five shots from the field including both three-point attempts.

Aaron Wyatt finally got the Tigers on the board with 13:59 remaining after missing their first four shots. Campbellsville struggled to a 6-of-24 shooting performance in the opening stanza (25.0 percent).

After the hot start, WKU cooled off a bit, suffering a three-minute scoring drought of their own, until senior Bowling Green product Matt Maresca converted a lay-up to make it 25-12 and ignite an 11-0 run. DJ Magley's transition bucket with 2:31 left in the half capped the run as the lead ballooned to 34-12, the largest of the contest for WKU. Coming back from injury, Maresca saw his first action of the season contributing six points and four rebounds in 15 minutes of action.

Campbellsville did not go away quietly after trailing by 18 at the half, scoring 10 of the first 12 second-half points to pull within 36-26 with 17:43 to play. Zach Allender scored eight-straight, pouring in 15 of his game-high 19 in the second-half. Coming into the game averaging 20.3 points and 11.0 rebounds, the 6-7 forward pulled down nine of his team's 34 rebounds. Following a frigid first 20 minutes, the Tigers shot 42.9 percent in the final frame.

Another Allender basket just under three minutes later sliced the deficit to single digits at 41-32, but the Toppers pushed the bulge back to a comfortable 16-point cushion behind a 9-2 run capped off by one of two free throws by Jeremy Evans with 10:13 remaining. Evans had a team-best 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 6-of-8 at the stripe.

Newcomer Sergio Kerusch recorded his first double double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Shooting 31.3 percent in the second half, WKU maintained control by owning the glass 44-34 keyed by 18 offensive rebounds. With all nine active Hilltoppers scratching the scoring column, WKU got nearly half of its points, 28, from the bench. Conversely, Campbellsville managed just four bench points, with both baskets coming in the final five minutes of action.

WKU now travels to Murray, Ky. to face long-time in-state rival Murray State on Saturday, November 22 at 7:00 PM. The Hilltoppers and Racers have met 145 times on the hardwood, with WKU holding a commanding 96-49 advantage in the all-time series. Only 154 meetings with Eastern Kentucky surpasses the number of times WKU and MSU have played one another.


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