BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — In a game featuring nine ties and 22 lead changes, WKU took the lead for the final time at 64-62 with 59 seconds left and held on for its fifth-straight victory, 68-64 over Texas State Saturday night at E.A. Diddle Arena. With the win, WKU improves to 15-7 overall and 7-2 in league play. Texas State drops to 6-15 and 2-6.
WKU is now eight games over .500 for the first time since the 2009-10 squad ended the season with a 21-13 record.
A PDF Box Score, Postgame Notes and Postgame Quotes are attached.
George Fant led WKU with 21 points Saturday night, and T.J. Price added 13. Caden Dickerson hit four big three-pointers and finished with 12 points, and O'Karo Akamune had eight points and nine rebounds. Texas State was led by Joel Wright's 18 points.
In a first half featuring 13 lead changes, Texas State took a 30-27 lead into the break after leading by seven on two different occasions in the final 5:25 of the half. An Akamune fast-break dunk brought the Hilltoppers within three with 1:36 left in the opening half, and the score remained 30-27 into the locker room.
Dickerson hit three three-pointers early and led all scorers with nine first-half points. Fant went 4-for-6 from the floor and finished the first 20 minutes with eight points, and Texas State was paced by two with eight points apiece. WKU shot 45.8 percent in the first half (11-for-24), and Texas State went 11-for-25 from the field (.440).
WKU led 47-45 with just over 12:00 left in the game, but a 6-0 Texas State run make the score 51-47 in favor of the Bobcats. T. Price converted a three-point play a few minutes later to put WKU back on top, 52-51.
With 4:13 left in the game, a Fant dunk put WKU ahead 58-57, and Texas State would never re-take the lead. The game was tied for the ninth and final time, however, at 62-all with 1:22 showing on the clock, but WKU scored six of the game's final eight points to seal its 10th victory of the season at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Two free throws by Harrison-Docks completed the win after Texas State once again cut it to two points and 66-64.
WKU finished the game shooting 44.9 percent from the floor (22-for-49), and Texas State ended at 46.8 percent (22-for-47). WKU outrebounded its 12th-straight opponent, this time by a 31-26 margin.
HEAD COACH CORNER
WKU head coach Ray Harper:
“These were two tough games this week, and we were able to grind it out and find a way to win both games. I thought O'Karo Akamune was the difference once again. He is just a step quicker than some guys right now. If we can get some more guys playing the way he is playing, we will be okay. After the game we talked about how we are at the halfway point in the league. We are 7-2 in the conference, 15-7 overall and we have nine games left. We need to get ready for next Saturday in Little Rock in a big one.”
Texas State head coach Danny Kaspar:
“It was a hard-fought ball game. We had our chances to win, but we let it get away from us. WKU is a good basketball team; a well-coached team. Certainly their crowd and the atmosphere helped them here tonight. That game could have gone either way. I am very happy with the defense our team played tonight, but not very happy with the result.”
The Hilltoppers hit the road for two Sun Belt Conference games, beginning next Saturday at 5:00 PM (CT) at UALR. Next Saturday's game will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, airing in the Bowling Green area on WKU PBS. 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.
WKU returns home to start a three-game homestand on Thursday, February 13 against Troy.
Single-game tickets for the 2013-14 season and various multiple-game packages 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.