BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Despite cutting a 19-point second-half deficit to as few as six points, WKU could not overcome a poor shooting first half and dropped a 69-62 decision to South Alabama Saturday night at E.A. Diddle Arena. WKU falls to 17-9 overall and 9-4 in league play with the loss, and South Alabama moves to 8-17 and 2-10 with the victory.
The Hilltoppers went just 4-of-28 in the first half (.143) and fell behind 26-14 at the break. George Fant powered WKU in the game with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Brandon Harris hit four three-pointers and finished with 12 points. T.J. Price had 15 points, and O'Karo Akamune had eight rebounds. Two South Alabama players had double-doubles, as Mychal Ammons had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Augustine Rubit added 12 points and 13 rebounds.
After falling behind 10-3, WKU scored six-straight points while South Alabama missed four shots in a row. After that, however, the lid went on the rim for WKU, as the squad missed 16-straight shots and the Jaguars opened up a 24-12 lead. WKU went 11:58 without a made basket, and the Jaguars took a 26-14 lead into the half.
WKU shot 14.3 percent in the first half (4-for-28) and went 1-for-10 from three-point range. South Alabama outrebounded the Hilltoppers 30-22, and the Jaguars went 9-for-31 from the floor (.290).
WKU fell behind by as many as 19 points with 11:52 left in the game, and the Hilltoppers would get no closer than six points with 29 seconds left and again with 15 ticks on the clock.
The Hilltoppers ended the game shooting 32.8 percent (22-for-67) and were outrebounded 50-42. WKU had a season-low five turnovers in the game. The Jaguars finished shooting 40.0 percent (24-for-60).
HEAD COACH CORNER
WKU head coach Ray Harper:
“They’re talented. I think it showed up tonight. I thought (Mychal) Ammons was terrific. He had 20 and 11, (Augustine) Rubit 12 and 13. They kicked us on the glass. First half, it was just a struggle for us. We got some good looks, but I thought we settled for too many three-pointers when they went they went zone. We played a lot of east-to-west; we didn’t get in the gaps. I think we scored 48 points in the second half. We scored enough in the second half to win the game. We didn’t get enough stops. We would make a three, and then didn't find guys out of our press. We didn’t rotate back, and boom, a three right back at us. Take away a lot of things, make free throws and we win the game.”
South Alabama head coach Matthew Graves:
“We came in with a plan to win. The bottom line is our guys really communicated with one another. They understood this was a big game. This is a tough place to come in and play. Their fans are really good. We needed to come in here and play with energy and effort and communicate with each other, and from the opening tip we did that throughout the entire game. The one thing I told our players is WKU is a great program. They have a culture and toughness about them; they are going to make a run. We just had to stay the course, continue to make hard cuts, and make good plays at the rim.”
The Hilltoppers wrap up a three-game homestand with a 7:00 PM (CT) game against ULM next Saturday. Next Saturday's game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 with ESPN Full Court availability to be determined in the coming days 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.
Next Saturday's game is the Critter Classic benefitting the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society, and fans can receive a complimentary ticket to the game by bringing an item on the Humane Society's wish list to donate. In addition, the Party One Zone for Kids will be open in the upper concourse, as it will be every Saturday home game throughout the season.
Single-game tickets for the 2013-14 season are on sale now. Fans interested in purchasing single-game tickets or multiple-game packages can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.
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.