Hilltoppers trounce Campbellsville, start 4-0 for the first time since 2006-07 season

WKU redshirt junior Carson Williams (22) runs back after scoring against Campbellsville during the game in Diddle Arena on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.

Elliott Wells

The WKU men’s basketball team (4-0) started off its matchup with in-state NAIA program Campbellsville (4-4) by snatching the first possession out of the air, as sophomore center Charles Bassey faced zero resistance during the game’s opening tipoff.

The Hilltoppers didn’t face much more resistance from the Tigers after the uncontested tipoff, as WKU exploded for a 64.5% shooting performance from the floor in the second half and emptied its entire bench during a 109-66 blowout win on Monday in Diddle Arena.

WKU moved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season in compelling fashion, boasting seven different double-digit scorers.

The Hilltoppers scored 52 points in the paint, outrebounded CU 44-31 and shot 62% overall from the field while trouncing CU.

The Tigers shot 45.7% from the field in the first half, leading WKU for 3:25 of clock time during parts of the opening period.

While the Hilltoppers outrebounded CU overall, the Tigers grabbed nine offensive rebounds compared to WKU’s five.

“They have some really good little players,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “Again, it was just one of those games where they were overmatched with talent tonight. That’s what it comes down to. It was very obvious in the first half, we didn’t take them as serious as you need to take them.”

“We allowed too much dribble-penetration. They scored too many points in the first half, but give them credit. They had some guys jump up, make some shots and do some things.”

Redshirt junior forward Carson Williams led the Hilltoppers by scoring a career-high 27 points and collecting five rebounds. Bassey added 15 points and five rebounds to the scoresheet.

Freshman guard Jordan Rawls and junior forward Josh Anderson both made an impact off the bench for the second straight game, scoring 10 points and tallying three rebounds each.

“You know, it felt really good,” Williams said postgame. “It was a really good balanced team effort. I think we had seven guys in double figures, getting contributions from everybody. It’s a good team effort all around.”

The Hilltoppers scored on their first possession when Bassey netted an easy layup off an entry pass from junior guard Taveion Hollingsworth.

WKU started the game on a 9-0 run before CU finally scored at the 17:24 mark.

The Tigers would eventually make their next four field goals, cutting the WKU lead to just 13-9 at the media timeout taken with 14:29 on the clock in the first half.

CU took its first lead of the game when senior guard David Simmons hit a 3-pointer to give the Tigers a 16-15 lead.

Simmons finished the game with 13 points in 27 minutes to lead all Tiger scorers.

Senior forward Matt Horton checked in for the Hilltoppers for the first time this season at the 12:39 mark of the first half. Horton got fouled on his first offensive possession, but he missed both of his free throws.

The Hilltoppers started the game shooting 0 for 7 on 3-pointers until Anderson made a three from the top of the key at the 11:56 mark. WKU shot from behind the arc in the first half.

WKU and the Tigers traded baskets for a majority of the first half, but the Hilltoppers never looked back when they took a 31-30 lead with 6:53 left on the clock.

The Hilltoppers finally broke away from CU by building an explosive 10-0 run with just 3:09 left in the half. 

Horton scored his first points of the season whenever he picked up an offensive rebound and scored a lefty sky-hook off the glass to give the Hilltoppers a 54-41 lead going into the half.

After getting off to a slow start from beyond the arc, the Hilltoppers ended the half making 5 of their last 9 3-pointers.  

Bassey and Williams each scored 12 first-half points, leading the Hilltoppers to 58.8% shooting from the floor in the first half. 

Stansbury rotated eight different WKU players onto the court during the first frame, and each player scored at least one field goal.

For the second straight game, Bassey struggled with foul trouble. Just 27 seconds into the second half, the 6-foot-11-inch center picked up third foul of the game.

WKU came out of the locker room and started the second half of play shooting 5-of-5 from the field. The Hilltoppers missed their first shot of the half at 14:06 mark, but WKU still maintained a 69-49 lead at the time. 

On the Hilltoppers’ next possession, Anderson slammed home a huge dunk that made the Diddle Arena faithful erupt with passion.

While the Tigers missed 10 straight shots, going on a 3:44 scoring drought, the Hilltoppers continued to stay hot from the floor, amassing a 15-1 run at the 11:26 mark of the second half and extending their lead to 78-50.

CU continued to struggle from the floor in the second half, missing 15-of-17 shots. The Hilltoppers took advantage, tying their previous season-high 97 points at the 4:23 mark.

Fans started to file toward the exit signs when the Hilltoppers reached the 100-point benchmark for the first time this season, when freshman forward Isaiah Cozart scored his first points of the night to give WKU a 101-60 lead with 3:07 remaining in the game.

WKU wound up outscoring the Tigers 55-25 in the second half, giving the Hilltoppers their sixth consecutive win over CU with a 43-point home victory.

Although the meeting with Stansbury’s alma mater was a late addition to the Hilltoppers’ 2019-20 schedule, it counted as a campus-site game of this week’s 2019 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam tournament, which WKU will participate in this weekend.

Following a blowout victory, WKU will travel to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, for three neutral-site games.

The Hilltoppers will first meet Bowling Green (3-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. before meeting either Illinois State (2-1) or Cincinnati (2-1) on Sunday and an opponent to be determined on Monday.

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at [email protected] Follow Elliott on Twitter at @ewells5.