WKU sweeps Marshall, Bassey one rebound shy of tenth double-double

Junior Charles Bassey (23) attempting a shot against Marshall on Jan. 17, 2021.

Kaden Gaylord

The Hilltoppers (11-4), (4-2, C-USA) came out of Huntington, West Virginia on top 69-67 over Marshall (7-4), (1-3 C-USA) securing its first sweep in conference play behind another big performance from junior Charles Bassey. 

“We gotta take advantage of the way people have been guarding us on that perimeter and I think it helped us in some areas in the last two games,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “I think it is something we can build on.”

It was an exciting first half of play for both programs. WKU had a strong start, shooting 50% on its first 18 shots but broke down at the end of the first half, while Marshall used its shooting ability to its advantage.  

Making threes has been a weakness of the WKU offense for most of the season but in the first half, it looked like a strength. The Hilltoppers went 4-of-5 from behind the arc and three came from Charles Bassey and Carson Williams. They owned the first half in the paint and looked like pure shooters. 

“That’s part of my game,” Bassey said. “I’ve been telling everybody I can shoot the ball – that’s part of my game and I gotta show it every time.” 

Marshall stayed on the Hilltoppers heels staying close in the rebound total, keeping WKU off of the free throw line, and causing turnovers. All of that contributed to a 16-2 run that allowed it to pull ahead at the end of the half to take a 35-27 lead into the locker room. 

WKU shot 3-of-6 from the free throw line in the first half with as many turnovers as made shots, 10. Marshall had 10 points off of turnovers, six steals, six blocks, and 11 points from the bench. 

What makes the Herd a difficult team to match up with is the amount of depth it has and how many players that can score the ball and they showed that with eight players scoring in the first half. 

Bassey and Williams combined for 20 of the 27 points for WKU with senior Josh Anderson only having two points and shooting once while senior Taveion Hollingsworth had zero points on 0-of-5 shooting. 

“We had too many turnovers, that was the number one message and number two, we have to cut down on turnovers,” Stansbury said. 

Stansbury has talked about winning the first four minutes of the second half and that they did, pulling the deficit down to one after multiple makes from Bassey and Anderson. 

The action picked up as both teams traded threes, dunks, and alley-oops. WKU regained the lead 47-46, scoring 22 points in under eight minutes. 

The second half became a game of runs once again as the teams traded buckets, therefore trading the lead back and forth. Marshall struggled the whole half in its area of expertise, shooting threes, going 2-of-17. 

WKU increased its lead to five after a three from redshirt junior Kenny Cooper followed by a floater from sophomore Jordan Rawls. On the defensive end, Bassey established a change in momentum after a couple of blocks on Marshall star Taevion Kinsey. 

With 30 seconds left Josh Anderson secured the rebound off a 3-point miss by Marshall but a turnover from Hollingsworth led to the Herd getting to the free throw line and bringing the score within one. Rawls would eventually get fouled and sent to the line with seven seconds left and hit both free throws to go up three. 

Marshall was sent to the line again, hitting the first, intentionally missing the second but the ball was sent out of bounds and looked like it went off the Marshall player but ultimately, they kept possession. With three seconds left Marshall got up an attempt but missed, giving WKU the 69-67 win. 

“You could see the referee’s face, everybody knew it was our ball,” Bassey said. “But we stuck to ourselves and we just played good defense to get the win.” 

Bassey led with 24 points and nine rebounds. Carson Williams had 16 points and five rebounds on 6-of-11 shooting. Josh Anderson had eight points on 2-3 shooting with six rebounds. 

Marshall was led by redshirt sophomore Andrew Taylor with 17 points and four assists on 7-of-9 shooting. Taevion Kinsey finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. 

WKU won again despite having fewer assists, seven more turnovers, and only +4 in rebounds. WKU shot 12-of-16 from the free throw line while the Herd went 7-of-9. 

WKU will now head on the road to face its other C-USA  rival, Middle Tennessee State University. This year, the Blue Raiders are currently last in the East Division of C-USA sitting at (3-7), (1-3, C-USA) after dropping both games to Southern Mississippi on the road. 

The Murphy Center Complex will be the home for this series as game one takes place on Saturday at 4 p.m. followed by a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. Game one will be shown on ESPN+ while game two will be shown on the CBS Sports Network. 

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