Hilltoppers top Valparaiso in Myrtle Beach, will play West Virginia in second round

Taveion Hollingsworth shoots a jumper in WKU’s 96-71 win over Kentucky Wesleyan. Hollingsworth scored 24 points and recorded 10 rebounds. 

Alec Jessie

WKU started off the Myrtle Beach Invitational with a convincing win thanks to a high-scoring night from redshirt junior Jared Savage. 

Savage led the team in scoring with 25 points, going 5-of-9 from behind the arc. Sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth notched 23 of his own to go with nine rebounds.

“I think we got to the free-throw line by throwing it inside, driving it inside and just slowing the game down and scoring with the clock not running,” Savage said in a press release. “And then on defense, I think we picked it up a little bit from last game and got stops.”

Markus Golder led the Crusaders with 15 points. Ryan Fazekas scored 14 and grabbed a team-high four rebounds.

The game went back and forth early on. The Crusaders jumped out to an early 11-9 lead at the first media timeout, but WKU went on a late first half run and never look back.

Jared Savage scored seven of the Hilltoppers’ 10 points in a three-minute stretch that extended the WKU lead to nine. WKU led by as many as 13 and held a 49-39 at the half.

Hollingsworth led the team in scoring at the half with 17 points. Savage added 12 of his own. The Hilltoppers hit 6-of-10 3-pointers in the first half and attempted 20 free throws.

“Our bench came out pretty good and gave us some energy,” Hollingsworth said in a press release. “We got some stops. Once we got in the flow of things, we got some stops and it started creating our offense.”

Early in the second period, WKU kept up a trend of poor second-half play. Valparaiso got to within seven and WKU went on multiple scoring droughts. The Hilltoppers also committed seven turnovers.

Deion Lavender and Bakari Evelyn kept the Crusaders in it with six and five points respectively.

The Hilltoppers’ play got better as the half went on. They ended up shooting a respectable 46 percent from the floor.

WKU was able to put the game away on the back of another Savage 3-pointer to distance the Hilltoppers. 

WKU will play West Virginia at 8 p.m. Friday in the second round of the Myrtle Beach Invitational.