Hilltoppers Win First Road Game of 2008

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

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Western Kentucky University (5-2) connected on nine of its first 13 shots from the field to grab a nine-point lead and
never looked back, racing by Tulane (4-4) 82-67 on Saturday afternoon
at Fogelman Arena. The Hilltoppers shot a season-best 56.9 percent
from the field including a scorching 70.6 percent from the three-point
line in notching their fourth-straight victory.

In picking up their first road win of the 2008-09 season, the Toppers
handed Tulane a rare December home loss, the Green Wave's first since 2003. The 82 points was also the WKU's biggest offensive output 10 games dating back to last year's NCAA Tournament.

Sophomore forward Sergio Kerusch drained his first four shots in
scoring nine of WKU's first 12 points. He would finish 7-of-10 for the
game for 15 points to go with six rebounds. Steffphon Pettigrew scored five-straight as the Toppers quickly built a nine-point cushion with 11:47 left in the half.

Trent Rodgers' bucket with 8:57 on the clock got the deficit down to 23-
19, but WKU reeled of a 14-3 run to blow things open 37-22 on AJ
Slaughter's first field goal, a three with 2:49 remaining. The Hilltoppers never trailed in the contest.

In the second half, Tulane never threatened, only pulling within single
digits twice, with the last coming on a Daniel Puckett triple with
13:59 to play, making it a 56-47 game. But Orlando Mendez-Valdez
responded with a pair of threes as WKU ballooned the spread to 19 on a Kerusch lay-up with 5:40 left, 71-52.

Puckett was the lone bright spot for the Green Wave, connecting on 8-of-14 shots including four three-pointers for a career-high 21 points.

Mendez-Valdez knocked down 5-of-7 from long range to tie his career-
high of 23 points. Pettigrew added 17 while Slaughter finished with
12. Jeremy Evans picked up his first double double of the season with
10 points and 11 rebounds, giving the Toppers five players in double
figures.

Aside from draining a season-best 12-of-17 from outside, WKU won the
battle of the boards 37-27 and held Tulane to 41.5 percent shooting on
their home floor.

WKU continues its three-game road swing on Saturday, December 13 when the Toppers travel to Evansville, Ind. to face the Aces at 7:00 PM.


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