NORFOLK, Va. (WBKO) --- WKU Hilltopper Basketball opened Saturday’s game with a 21-0 run, but Old Dominion battled back and dealt the Hilltoppers a 69-66 road loss.
The Hilltoppers (8-7 overall, 1-1 Conference USA) held the Monarchs scoreless for more than seven minutes to open the game, but Old Dominion (11-4, 1-1) trimmed its deficit to seven by halftime and took control with a big run midway through the second half.
“You go up whatever it is was, and you can’t relax,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “Twenty points means very little in today’s basketball. We had self-inflicted turnovers. … I thought their toughness versus ours exposed us some.”
WKU started the game in style, forcing Old Dominion to miss its first 12 shots.
The lead swelled to 21-0 at the 13:01 mark on a three-point play by sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth before the Monarchs began to battle back.
They went on a 32-13 run into the final two minutes of the half to pull back within 34-32, but Hollingsworth answered with a 3-pointer, and freshman center Charles Bassey scored on a layup to stretch the halftime advantage to 39-32.
The Monarchs were back within one within the first four minutes of the second half, but it was their 14-2 run midway through the frame that allowed them to build a cushion, including three straight 3-pointers.
Senior guard Ahmad Caver’s 3 made it 58-51 ODU with 7:57 to play.
“The defense was physical, and we weren’t being strong with the ball,” Hollingsworth said. “Their defense is pretty physical, and we just never got used to it.”
The Hilltoppers tied the game at 62-62 with 3:14 remaining, but Old Dominion answered with a huge 3 from Xavier Green and never gave up the lead.
Hollingsworth and Bassey each led WKU with 19 points. Bassey added 12 rebounds and three blocks.
Sophomore guard Josh Anderson added 17 points.
Redshirt senior guard B.J. Stith paced Old Dominion with 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Caver chipped in 18 points and six assists.
The Hilltoppers finish their three-game road swing to open C-USA play at defending league tournament champion Marshall at 6 p.m. CT Saturday, Jan. 12. The game will air on CBS Sports Network on Facebook Watch.
“We’re going to go in this week, get into practice, watch film and get ready for Saturday,” Anderson said.