Hilltoppers Can't Hold Late Lead In 67-63 Loss At Old Dominion

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NORFOLK, Va. (WBKO) --- WKU Hilltopper Basketball led by three with 1:25 to play Saturday at Old Dominion, but the Monarchs scored the final seven points of the game to deal the Hilltoppers a 67-63 road loss.

WKU (16-12, 9-6 Conference USA) pulled in front 63-60 with 85 seconds to play on a basket by redshirt senior Lamonte Bearden.

But ODU guard Xavier Green added to his career day with a game-tying 3, then hit the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds left to give the Monarchs (22-6, 12-3) the lead for good.

“In the first half, we turned the ball over way too many times to win on the road against a good team and got beat in second-chance points,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “In the second half, we only turned the ball over (five) times, we shoot 60 percent from the field, we controlled the paint. … We were locked in defensively, and for the most part it was one guy who hurt us. Green stepped up and made shots.”

Sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth paced WKU with 17 points, while Bearden had 13 points, seven assists and two steals.

Freshman center Charles Bassey added 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks, and sophomore guard Josh Anderson had 11 points and seven boards.

Hollingsworth scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half. It was his highest-scoring outing since totaling 24 points against Florida Atlantic on Jan. 19.

“I felt good today,” Hollingsworth said. “I don’t think I’m going away again. I’m here to stay. I was being aggressive. The past few games I haven’t been, so I had it in my mind to be aggressive.”

The game was a defensive slugfest in the first half as both teams shot 33 percent or lower before the break.

WKU had 11 turnovers in the first half and gave up 10 offensive rebounds, the last of which by Elbert Robinson pushed ODU’s lead to 26-21.

The Hilltoppers climbed back in front 35-34 with 14:39 remaining on a dunk by Bassey, and the teams traded blows into the final minutes.

With Old Dominion in front by one, Anderson swapped the advantage with two free throws to make it 61-60 WKU with 2:09 remaining, followed by Bearden’s layup to extend the lead.

But Green saved the final five of his career-high 22 points for the end. He hit 6 of 9 3-pointers in the victory.

“I think we came out in the second half and just played a little harder,” Bearden said. “But ODU was great today. They had great effort, and they played a great game.”

The Hilltoppers play their final road game of the regular season at UAB at 6:30 p.m. CT Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. The game will air on beIN SPORTS.

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