Bassey’s double-double not enough as WKU falls to Washington

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 first game of the 2018-2019 season, as the 25th-ranked Washington Huskies defeated the Hilltoppers 73-55 in the opener.

Senior forward Noah Dickerson led the way for the Huskies with 18 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Jaylen Nowell added 17 points and senior guard David Crisp scored 13 and dished seven assists.

“We survived to halftime with some foul trouble and got to halftime with a lead, and it’s a new game,” head coach Rick Stansbury said in a press release. “The thing you can’t do on the road is have self-inflicted turnovers. We had two turnovers in the first 40 seconds of the second half that led to two baskets. It’s not just the five points you give up. It’s the emotion you put back in this building. From then on, we were kind of on our heels a little bit.”

For the Hilltoppers, redshirt junior wing Jared Savage and sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth led the way with 15 and 14 points a piece. Freshman center Charles Bassey scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his college debut after recording double-doubles in both exhibitions. Sophomore guard Josh Anderson was held scoreless in his first game back from suspension.

This game was a tale of two halves, much like the way head coach Rick Stansbury described the final exhibition game Saturday.

Both teams went back and forth in the first half with multiple lead changes. The Hilltoppers pulled away late to take a 36-27 lead into halftime. Savage led the way for the Hilltoppers with 11 points while Hollingsworth registered 10 first half points.

The second half was a much different story. Washington scored the first 12 points out of the gate to retake the lead. The Hilltoppers tried to hang in, but ultimately the Huskies were too much. Washington outscored WKU 46-19 in the second half to ultimately cruise to victory. Bassey led the way for the Hilltoppers with seven points and seven rebounds in the second half.

“We came out sluggish in the second half,” Hollingsworth said in the release. “We’ve got to come out just as hard as we did the first half … We’re going to grow from it.”

Neither team shot the ball well, with Washington going just 40 percent from the field and WKU shooting just 37 percent. But the Huskies forced far more turnovers. WKU turned it over 16 times compared to Washington’s eight.

WKU will return home to Diddle Arena to face the Tennessee-Martin on Saturday at 6 p.m.

Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.