ARLINGTON, Texas — WKU led by 11 points with 9:56 to play in the game, but UT Arlington rallied down the stretch and knocked off WKU 80-73 Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. The loss drops WKU to 19-10 overall and 11-5 in Sun Belt Conference play. UT Arlington improves to 13-15 overall and 8-8 in conference games. WKU is now 6-2 in conference road games.
Five Hilltoppers were in double figures, led by T.J. Price's 17 points. Brandon Harris added 14, and Caden Dickerson, George Fant and Trency Jackson all added 11. Dickerson also had seven rebounds and three assists in 35 minutes in a game contested just 35 miles from his hometown of Argyle.
Reger Dowell, the Sun Belt Conference's leading scorer, had 37 points in the game to lead all scorers.
En route to its most points in the first half in 16 games, WKU made its first eight shots while UT Arlington went 1-for-10 to start the game to open up a 20-5 lead out of the starting gate.
WKU led 26-9 at the under-12:00 media timeout on the strength of draining its first six three-point attempts of the game. UT Arlington followed with six-straight points to close to 26-15 with 9:26 left in the half, and the Mavericks had it to within six points at 38-32 with 2:01 left in the half.
But four-straight free throw shots by Harris sent WKU to the locker room with a 42-32 advantage. The Hilltoppers ended the half shooting 46.7 percent from the floor (14-for-30) and hit eight three-pointers, matching its high in a half this season. T. Price led WKU with nine points, and Chris Harrison-Docks had eight while Fant and Harris each had seven points. Dickerson contributed six points and three assists in 17 first-half minutes. Dowell led all scorers with 15 points in the opening 20 minutes.
UT Arlington attacked the basket to start the second half and cut the WKU lead to 46-40, but Dickerson buried a three-pointer and T. Price hit a long jumper to bring the lead back to double-digits at 51-40.
WKU led 60-49 before UT Arlington hit back-to-back three-pointers to make it 60-55, forcing WKU to call timeout with 8:47 to play.
The Mavericks kept clawing back, ultimately bringing the game within one point at 64-63 with 4:17 to play. After a jump ball alternate possession, UT Arlington took its first lead of the game at 65-64, before Jackson responded with a jumper to put WKU back on top.
But UT Arlington scored seven of the next eight points to open up a 74-67 lead, and WKU came no closer than five points down the stretch as the Mavericks rallied to win.
WKU finished the game shooting 43.6 percent (24-for-55) and hit 10-of-28 from behind the three-point arc (.357). WKU made just 55.6 percent of its foul shots (15-for-27), and UT Arlington scored 48 second-half points.
The Mavericks turned 14 WKU turnovers into 21 points.
WKU returns to E.A. Diddle Arena for the final time in the 2013-14 regular season Thursday night at 7:00 (CT) against Louisiana-Lafayette. Thursday's game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and regionally on WKU PBS and WBNA. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network, airing locally in Bowling Green on WKLX-FM Sam 100.7, with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
Thursday is Senior Night, and Caden Dickerson, O'Karo Akamune and Brandon Harris will be honored for their contributions to the program during a pre-game ceremony. The first 1,000 fans into E.A. Diddle Arena will receive a free drink koozie, courtesy of Coca-Cola and WKU Athletics.
The game on Thursday is also Thrifty Thursday, where fans can purchase two reserved bleacher seats for $15.00 or four reserved bleacher seats for $30.00. The Hilltopper Express Deal will be offered by Centerplate and features one hot dog, one bag of chips and one bottle of Coke for $7.00.
Tickets for the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Tournament are now on sale through the WKU Ticket Office. Each ticket book contains eight tickets. There are a total of eight sessions, with sessions 1-6 including two games each. Session seven featuring the women's championship game, and session eight is the men's championship game. Ticket books cost $99.00, and seats are general admission. To purchase tickets please contact the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.