WKU Hilltopper Basketball kept its poise Thursday night and came up with crucial baskets when needed late, holding off UTEP for a 67-62 road win.
Junior guard Taveion Hollingsworth scored the Hilltoppers’ final seven points, and WKU knocked down nine 3-pointers to pull out the win.
WKU (17-8 overall, 10-3 Conference USA) can now be no worse than the No. 2 seed going into Conference USA’s Bonus Play next week.
“Having the opportunity to lead for 35 minutes on the road is pretty good,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “There are no easy games. This is a very talented team that’s hard to beat in this building. I felt their backs were against the wall, and we knew we’d get their best shot. … Anytime you can go on the road and win is huge, and to do it the way we did it again through some foul trouble and injuries – these guys have no quit in them.”
Hollingsworth led WKU with 18 points, moving into 18th place on WKU’s all-time scoring list in the process.
Redshirt senior guard/forward Jared Savage contributed 14 points – including four 3-pointers – and nine rebounds, while redshirt junior forward Carson Williams tallied 13 points.
Graduate senior guard Camron Justice chipped in 11 point and three steals.
WKU went on an 18-6 run early to open a 24-11 advantage, its largest of the game.
But UTEP (13-13, 4-9) made its last six shots of the frame and finished the half on a 12-2 run to get back within 32-29 at the break.
The Miners scored the first two baskets of the second half to pull in front and eventually led by as much as three, but WKU answered with a 9-0 run, capped by a Justice 3 to make it 41-35 with 14:25 remaining.
The Hilltoppers had plenty of big shots left in the tank.
A 3-pointer by Savage made it 50-43 with 7:46 left, and another with 4:46 to play to give WKU a 55-51 cushion.
UTEP got back within one again at 57-56, but freshman guard Jordan Rawls sank a 3 with 2:41 remaining to push it back to four.
From there, Hollingsworth scored WKU’s last seven, including a tough teardrop shot with 29 seconds left to make it a six-point game.
“We’re just trying to play through a lot of things,” Hollingsworth said. “We’re going through a lot, and we’re just going to try to keep winning.”
Souley Boum paced UTEP with 21 points.
The Hilltoppers play their final game before Bonus Play begins at UTSA at 2 p.m. CT Saturday in San Antonio, Texas. The game will stream online on CBS Sports Network on Facebook Watch.
“We haven’t won the first one on the road all year, so that’s a lot of momentum going into that,” Savage said. “We’re pretty tired right now, so we’re going to rest tomorrow and just get ready to play on Saturday.”