Tops defeat Campbellsville 82-61 in exhibition opener

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 10:57 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU Hilltopper Basketball tipped off the 2021-22 season Monday night with an 82-61 exhibition victory over Campbellsville at E.A. Diddle Arena.

“There’s some good, lots of things to work on,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “Guys not being able to change in defenses, react. Maybe letting a missed shot bother you a little bit. Not being able to get back and knowing where I have to go defensively, but I was like you all. I was sitting there watching too, trying to figure it out a little bit and watching and learning some of these guys. But there are some good things, a lot of things to work on, but also some things we can build on.”

The Hilltoppers had four players in double figures scoring, led by senior transfer forward Jairus Hamilton’s 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Dayvion McKnight added 17 points and four assists, while 7-foot-5 junior center Jamarion Sharp added 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks off the bench in his WKU debut.

Fifth-year senior guard Josh Anderson scored 10 points, and redshirt senior transfer forward Jaylen Butz chipped in eight points and 10 boards.

WKU shot 48.5% from the floor for the game, including 53.1% overall in the second half and 6 of 13 from 3-point range.

“It was just a great opportunity for us to come out and play our first game in front of the fans and everything, especially with COVID last year,” Hamilton said. “It’s nice to have a fan atmosphere. I think we came out, we definitely competed. There’s a couple things we need to work on of course because the season just started but I think we finished off the game really strong so I’m definitely proud of that.”

They held Campbellsville to 33.3% shooting, although the Tigers made 11 3-pointers and eight after halftime.

After a slow offensive start, WKU made eight straight field goals late in the first half to steadily built a 37-23 halftime advantage.

The Hilltoppers fired out of the gate in the second half with eight straight points, and it eventually became a 21-4 run to open their largest lead of the night at 58-27 with 12:47 to play.

“In the second half, we played how we’ve been practicing since the summertime,” Sharp said. “In the second half, that’s how we practice every single day, we coordinate with each other just like that.”

WKU outrebounded Campbellsville 50-36 and outscored the Tigers 40-20 in the paint. Keaston Brown and Peyton Broughton paced Campbellsville with 12 points apiece.

The Hilltoppers complete exhibition play Friday against the University of the Cumberlands at 7 p.m. CT.

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