Hilltoppers squander halftime lead in loss to Louisiana Tech

WKU sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth (11) reacts to a foul being called on him during an exhibition match vs Kentucky Wesleyan in Diddle Arena on Nov. 3. Hollingsworth scored 24 points in the win.

Alec Jessie

The WKU men’s basketball team dropped its fourth conference game of the season with a 62-50 loss at the hands of the Louisiana State Bulldogs, despite holding a lead at halftime.

“We gave them confidence,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said after the game. “Gave the building some energy and just didn’t play with the same confidence that we played with the first twenty minutes.”

Junior wing Jared Savage led the Hilltoppers with 11 points, all coming in the first half. Freshman center Charles Bassey dominated down low again with 16 points and eight rebounds.

Guard DaQuan Bracey led the Bulldogs in scoring with 17 points. Guard Ra’Shawn Langston had 15 of his own. Forward Anthony Duruji had nine points and 11 boards.

WKU got off to a slow start in the matchup, allowing LA Tech to score the first five points of the game.

The Hilltoppers would wake up with a 15-2 run to take an eight point lead. Junior wing Jared Savage knocked down a couple 3-pointers during that stretch. Freshman center Charles Bassey scored five points and pulled down two rebounds early, but had to sit a majority of the first due to foul trouble.

LA Tech would respond to the WKU flurry with an 11-3 run of its own. Guard Amorie Archibald hit a 3-pointer during the stretch.

With the scored tied a 21 with 4:36 left in the half, the Hilltoppers made their move before the break. Sophomore guard Josh Anderson scored a couple baskets in the paint and WKU added to the lead on the free throw line.

The Hilltoppers took a 28-21 lead into halftime. Even with 10 first half turnovers and Bassey in foul trouble, WKU held a solid lead with 20 minutes left in the game.

Savage led all scorers in the first half with 11 points. Senior guard Lamonte Bearden also added five assists and two steals.

Archibald and guard JaColby Pemberton led the Bulldogs with five points each. Forward Anthony Duruji added four points and three rebounds.

WKU shot considerable better from the floor in the first half, going 10-21 compared to just 8-30 for LA Tech. The Bulldogs had more offensive rebounds, but WKU still held the advantage on the glass 19-17.

The second half was not as kind to the Hilltoppers as the first.

LA Tech blitzed WKU with a 22-4 run to begin the second half. Guard DaQuan Bracey led the surge with multiple buckets.

“They ran the floor,” sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth said. “And most of us didn’t really get back and they took advantage of that.”

WKU tried to fight back into the game. Bassey and Hollingsworth got the Hilltoppers within two with under five minutes left.

But the Bulldogs would not be denied. Guard Ra’Shawn Langston hit a clutch 3-pointer to put LA Tech up 54-49.

The Hilltoppers managed only a single point in the final five minutes of the game as the Bulldogs closed out the game on an 11-1 run.

The Bulldogs outscored WKU 41-22. WKU shot a miserable 6-of-22 from the field. LA Tech also outrebounded the Hilltoppers 19-16.

The Hilltoppers will look to get back on track at home Thursday night against the University of Texas-San Antonio.

Men’s basketball reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie