A second-half surge keeps WKU alive against Austin Peay
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Coming out of the halftime break on a 20-5 run, WKU Hilltopper Basketball fended off the Austin Peay Governors in a 75-74 win in Clarksville on Wednesday night. The 7-1 start to WKU’s season is the best for the program since 2006-07 when the team started in the same manner.
“There’s no easy road wins,” said head coach Rick Stansbury. “We kind of had the game separated the way we wanted to in the second half. I thought in the second half when we came out we were really good… When you get up, you’ve got to finish the game. We let them hang around enough that they made some 3-point shots, gave them some confidence. When you’re on the road, it doesn’t take much to take the flow of that game. Again, when you go on the road, there’s no such thing as a pretty W. They can be as ugly as you want them to be, it’s a W and we’ll take that.”
WKU scored first for the eighth time this season, this time with a Jamarion Sharp dunk. The Hilltoppers jumped out to a 9-2 lead before Austin Peay scored 12 straight to take over the scoreboard. The run was stopped by another bucket by Sharp.
WKU fought back and was able to regain the lead by the 10-minute mark with a 3-pointer from Khristian Lander, plus a pair of free throws from Dayvion McKnight. The remainder of the half would be a back-and-forth game with a total of seven ties and seven lead changes.
APSU’s Guy Faunterloy sunk a 3-pointer with just over 20 seconds left in the half to put the Governors up 33-32 heading into the break.
The Hilltoppers returned from the break with energy, opening the half on a 20-5 run to take a thunderous 52-38 advantage with 11:24 remaining.
From there, the Governors slowly chipped away at WKU’s lead. The Hilltoppers maintained a solid edge of six to eight points between the 8:10 and 2:43 marks. In that time, Austin Peay scored eight straight points, including back-to-back 3′s, but WKU kept them at bay.
Austin Peay closed in on the Hilltoppers in under two minutes. Multiple fouls and trips to the free throw line made time draw on, which included a 3-point play by a Governor with just 20 seconds left. Emmanuel Akot went and knocked down two huge free throws with 18 seconds remaining to give WKU a 75-72 lead.
The Governors returned the favor with two free throws of their own to make it 75-74 Tops with just nine seconds left.
In one final look at the basket, Austin Peay’s last-second shot from 45 feet out bounced around the entire rim before falling out, allowing WKU to advance to 7-1.
McKnight had nine points, seven assists, and seven steals, the most steals by any Hilltopper since at least 2010. WKU was led in scoring by Emmanuel Akot who had 20 points, including 16 in the second half, as well as three rebounds and an assist.
Jamarion Sharp had a bit of a homecoming with Hopkinsville just a short drive up the road from APSU. He had 18 points, nine rebounds, and six blocks.
Austin Peay’s Elijah Hutchins-Everett had 19 points along with six boards, shooting 8 of 15 from the field.
“I think that’s college basketball,” said Akot. “It’s hard to go on the road. They’re a well-coached team, playing us, it’s a big game from them. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best, but I thought we did a good job coming out in the second half and that’s what won the game.”
WKU will now have 10 days off before hosting Wright State on Saturday, December 10 at 6 p.m. CT.
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