WKU falls to No. 12 Houston, Grimes drops 33 on Hilltoppers

WKU freshman Dayvion McKnight guarding redshirt senior DeJon Jarreau on Fen 25, 2021. The Hilltoppers lost 81-57 to the Cougars. 

Kaden Gaylord

WKU (15-5), (8-2, C-USA) took on No. 12 Houston (19-3), (12-3, AAC) in the Feritta Center Thursday evening. The Hilltoppers fell to the Cougars 81-57 behind the hot shooting from junior Quentin Grimes. 

“That’s why Houston is one of the better teams in the country,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “You have to be able to play 40 minutes against a team like them.”

The Hilltoppers were without redshirt junior Luke Frampton for Thursday’s game at Houston. According to WKU, Frampton was unavailable for the game against the Cougars. 

Stansbury said it will still need to be evaluated on if Frampton will be available against FIU.

“We wanted this kind of competition,” Stansbury said. “At halftime I felt about as good as they were. This experience will help us no matter who we play. Even though the outcome wasn’t what we wanted I am still glad we came and played it.” 

Senior Taveion Hollingsworth led WKU with 17 points and two assists. Junior Charles Bassey finished with nine points and seven assists. Quentin Grimes led the Cougars with 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting and 8-of-16 from behind the arc.

Hollingsworth said the team needs to get back in the gym and learn from their mistakes after the game against No. 12 Houston. 

WKU had 20 turnovers, the second most this season, compared to the Cougars’ nine. Houston finished +27 from behind the three-point line. 

Hollingsworth started the game scoring the team’s first seven points, as he traded baskets with the Cougars, with Houston taking a 11-9 lead at the first media timeout. 

Houston took control after the break, causing turnovers and hitting threes. The Cougars took a 10-point lead in a three-minute span. 

It then became the Quentin Grimes show as the junior scored 10 points in a row for the Cougars. He had 13 of the team’s first 29 points halfway through the first half. 

“We didn’t guard him in either half,” Stansbury said of Grimes. “In the first half, we didn’t allow any transition baskets and you look at the stat sheet, the one bad stat is 27 points off turnovers.”

Big man Bassey wasn’t a prime factor in the first half, as he didn’t score his first point until he got to the free throw line at the 6:52 mark. He scored his first shot from the field at 2:29 in the first half, a three-pointer from deep. 

Houston shot 6-of-11 from behind the arc, had seven steals, and created 10 first half turnovers by WKU.

Despite all that, the Hilltoppers battled back to bring it down to a 39-38 deficit at halftime as WKU went on a 19-8 run to end the half. The Cougars had not given up 38 points in the first half all season until this game. 

“If we want to be an NCAA team and make a run those are the kind of teams we got to beat, so it’s good to see when a team like that late in the year,” redshirt senior Kenny Cooper said.

Cooper said the only way this game against Houston hurts WKU is if they do not get better from it. 

Houston came out of the locker room and hit two straight threes, forcing WKU to take a timeout, leaving them with one for the rest of the game. The Cougars went on a 18-4 run that put them up 57-42. 

The Cougars would find themselves up 22 points off another Grimes three pointer with three and a half minutes left, essentially putting the game in the books. 

“We’ll need our bench to step up and give us some more minutes come Sunday and Monday,” Stansbury said of the FIU matchup. 

The Hilltoppers return home to host FIU in Diddle Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at noon.

“Coming off a loss like this makes the team hungry,” Hollingsworth said of the upcoming matchup against the Panthers. “We don’t have to wait too long, we’re eager.” 

Men’s basketball beat reporter Kaden Gaylord can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Kaden on Twitter at @_KLG3.