Hilltoppers series against Old Dominion postponed

Junior guard Taveion Hollingsworth (11) pulls up for a contested 3-pointer late in the shot clock during the WKU Hilltoppers’ 71-69 comeback win over the Old Dominion Monarchs on Thursday, Jan. 16 in Diddle Arena.

Kaden Gaylord

After WKU swept Middle Tennessee this past weekend, the Hilltoppers were supposed to return home to face Old Dominion this Friday and Saturday. On Monday, according to CBS Sports’ College Basketball Insider Jon Rothstein, this weekend’s matchup between the Hilltoppers and Monarchs has been postponed due to COVID-19.

WKU Athletics made the official announcement Tuesday via a press release.

The release said WKU Men’s and Women’s Basketball’s games this week against Old Dominion have been postponed due to COVID-19 issues in the Monarch program.

{{tncms-inline account=”Jon Rothstein” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sources: This weekend's series between Western Kentucky and Old Dominion has been postponed due to issues related to COVID-19 with Old Dominion.</p>— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) <a href="https://twitter.com/JonRothstein/status/1353786030260944896?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 25, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/JonRothstein/status/1353786030260944896″ type=”twitter”}}

ODU has not played a game in two weeks because its home series against North Texas was postponed due to positive COVID-19 tests within both the ODU men’s and women’s basketball programs. With the addition of this weekend’s matchup, ODU has now had six games either postponed or canceled this season.

After Sunday’s game against Middle Tennessee, interim head coach Phil Cunningham addressed the possibility of not playing Old Dominion.

“We’ve played the full limit of non-conference games, so I think that would be a conference decision,” Cunningham said. “We would play If we had the opportunity — we would go play anybody anywhere.”

Players also voiced their desire to be able to play against the Monarchs this weekend.

“I would like to go ahead and play the games, stay in shape, and stay in this rhythm,” redshirt senior Kenny Cooper said. “I feel like our team is playing pretty well right now, and we’re kind of in a good flow, so I would like to keep that going.”

It is important to note there is an open week at the end of the season that holds the purpose of making up games that were postponed.

WKU has played its full slate of non-conference matchups, so it is unlikely that it can play a team outside of Conference USA but it is possible a team that isn’t scheduled to play this week can step in the place of the Monarchs.

WKU (13-4), (6-2, C-USA) swept Middle Tennessee (3-10), (1-6, C-USA) this past weekend to further its lead in the East division of C-USA without head coach Rick Stansbury present for the games.

“Going into these last few weeks, coach Stansbury has really been on our team about being more player driven,” associate head coach Phil Cunningham said postgame Saturday. “There’s so much senior leadership out there, and it’s just a really good win under the circumstances.”

According to a press release from WKU Athletics, Stansbury had a fever prior to the MTSU series and did not coach the two games out of precaution. He took three COVID-19 tests and tested negative in all of them. Stansbury has been talking about the team being “player driven” and it was on full display this past weekend.

In the first game, five players scored in double figures for WKU. Junior Charles Bassey led with 16 points and 12 rebounds while grabbing his tenth double-double of the season. Redshirt senior Carson Williams and senior Taveion Hollingsworth both followed with 15 points each, while junior transfer Luke Frampton had 14 with four three pointers.

In game two, the win gave WKU its best start to a season since the 2001-02 campaign. Bassey earned his 11th double-double of the season, scoring 23 points and 14 rebounds against MTSU, which is tied for the most in the nation. Sophomore Kofi Cockburn from Illinois also has 11 double-doubles on the season.

ODU announced last Friday their series with North Texas would be postponed prior to WKU taking on MTSU on Saturday. 

{{tncms-inline account=”Chartway Arena” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/HlaKFyIXLw">pic.twitter.com/HlaKFyIXLw</a></p>— Chartway Arena (@ChartwayArena) <a href="https://twitter.com/ChartwayArena/status/1352686111693238272?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 22, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ChartwayArena/status/1352686111693238272″ type=”twitter”}}

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