BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU snapped a three-game losing skid Thursday night with a 72-49 win over Louisiana-Lafayette at E.A. Diddle Arena, as the Hilltoppers held a Sun Belt Conference opponent to fewer than 50 points for the first time in nearly three seasons. The win improves WKU's record to 11-8 overall and 5-3 in conference play, and the Ragin' Cajuns drop to 7-13 and 3-6 with the loss.
The win is WKU's eighth in the last 10 games against the Ragin' Cajuns. The last time WKU held a conference opponent under 50 points in a game was February 13, 2010, when WKU won 67-46 at UALR. The 49 points allowed tonight were the fewest in a game this season since Brescia (Ky.) managed 46 points in a 28-point WKU win on November 24.
Brandon Harris led WKU with 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Three other Hilltoppers were in double figures, including Teeng Akol with 13 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. T.J. Price added 13 points, three assists and had no turnovers in a team-high 37 minutes, and George Fant contributed 10 points and six rebounds.
Percy Blade grabbed 10 rebounds from the guard position, and Aleksejs Rostov contributed seven points and five rebounds in 27 minutes. Louisiana-Lafayette was led by Elfrid Payton's 14 points and 11 points and 14 rebounds from Shawn Long.
WKU shot 42.1 percent as a team in the game (24-for-57) and limited the Ragin' Cajuns to 28.8 percent shooting (17-for-59).
The Hilltoppers scored the final 13 points of the first half and held Louisiana-Lafayette without a point for the last 5:16 of the opening half and opened up a 32-21 lead at intermission after trailing 21-19. The Hilltoppers saw layups by O'Karo Akamune and Akol sandwiched around a Harris three-pointer in just over 90 seconds, and WKU led 26-21 with 3:08 to go in the first half.
Akamune and Akol buried jumpers two minutes later, and the Hilltopper defense locked down and forced the Ragin' Cajuns to miss their final seven shots of the half to take the 11-point lead into the halftime locker room.
Price led WKU in the first half with nine points, and Akol had seven rebounds. WKU finished the half shooting 12-for-33 from the floor (.364), and Louisiana-Lafayette ended at 30.0 percent (9-for-30). WKU outrebounded the Ragin' Cajuns by eight in the first half.
WKU extended the scoring run into the second half to 17-straight and nine-straight Ragin' Cajun misses over 6:49 before Louisiana-Lafayette scored again, and by that time WKU had opened up a 36-21 lead.
The lead stretched to as many as 25 points with 8:25 to go in the game after an Akol three-pointer, and the Ragin' Cajuns got as close as 17 points with under 6:00 to play.
WKU held the Ragin' Cajuns to just 8-of-29 shooting in the second half (.276). WKU outrebounded Louisiana-Lafayette in the game, 49-31, to move to 19-4 under head coach Ray Harper when outrebounding its opponent in a game.
WKU concludes a three-game Sun Belt Conference homestand Saturday evening at 5:00 against UALR. The game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, regionally on WKYU-PBS and in Louisville on WBNA. It is also available on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
Saturday is the Critter Classic at E.A. Diddle Arena, and fans who bring items on the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society wish list to donate to help the animal shelter will receive a free ticket to the game. The 1992-93 men's basketball team, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, will be recognized for its 20th anniversary at the game, and WKU's throwback uniforms from Thursday night will be raffled off at halftime.
Youth involved in Big Red's Rascals and the Upward program will receive a free ticket to Saturday's game, and friends and family can purchase additional tickets for $7.00 each. As a part of Faith and Family Day, all church organization members can purchase reduced price tickets for $7.00.
Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.