Lights-out shooting, late foul call leads to WKU’s fall at Wisconsin

WKU guard Darius Thompson (15) attacks the basket for a layup during WKU’s game vs. Nicholls State on Nov 19 in E.A. Diddle Arena. WKU won 100-86.

WKU (6-4) fell to Wisconsin 81-80 on Wednesday after allowing the Badgers to shoot 60 percent from 3-point range and being called for a blocking foul with two seconds remaining.

Wisconsin (5-7) went 12-20 from 3-point range, getting over 40 percent of their points from deep. Despite that, WKU was tied with Wisconsin at 80 with two seconds remaining when freshman forward Marek Nelson was called for a charge on the Wisconsin inbound. Wisconsin freshman guard Brad Davison went 1-2 at the free throw line to win the game.

“Everybody will talk about that last play, but there’s plenty of plays that could have happened before that, that last play gets magnified,” head coach Rick Stansbury said. “That play didn’t beat us. You can go back to some free throws. You know, a minute-and-a-half before that we missed two. You can go back to not getting stops.”

Despite fouling out for a second straight game, junior guard Lamonte Bearden game back strong after playing just 12 minutes against Ohio. Bearden scored 19 points, a team-high, five assists (also a team-high), five rebounds and two steals. Darius Thompson also contributed in a number of ways, scoring 18 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing four assists and swiping four steals.

Wisconsin caught the 3-point bug early, making seven 3-pointers in the first hal and putting WKU down by double-digits. But after the Hilltoppers put together an 18-2 run to take a 38-31 lead. Freshman guard Jake Ohmer was a big factor in that run as he scored or assisted on nine straight points. WKU held Wisconsin without a field goal for about six minutes during that run, as Wisconsin’s two points both came from the free throw line. Wisconsin finally put a stop to the run with a last-second 3-pointer from sophomore guard Brevin Pritzl to make it 38-34 WKU. The Hilltoppers answered Wisconsin’s hot shooting with hot shooting themselves, as at the half they were 4-7 from 3-point range. And they controlled the inside, outscoring Wisconsin 26-10 in the paint.

“I liked how we fought back in the beginning,” freshman guard Jake Ohmer said. “We came on like a 20-6 run I think it was, and I just like how we fought back and just kept playing.”

Bearden and Johnson led the team in scoring in the first half with nine points apiece. Bearden was also tied for the team high in assists, as he and Thompson each had three. Thompson led the team with four rebounds.

Wisconsin came out of the gate red hot and jumped back out to a double-digit lead quickly thanks to three straight 3-pointers early in the second half. But WKU stuck with the Badgers throughout, tying the game at 71 with 4:48 remaining. WKU never led, but both teams traded blows for the rest of the game. WKU took advantage of a couple of missed free throws down the stretch and Thompson tied the game at 80 with two seconds remaining on a runner in the lane.

On the ensuing inbounds, Marek Nelson was called for a charging foul. There was confusion among the officials as to whether it was a charge or a block, but eventually they called the foul a charge on Nelson. Wisconsin’s Brad Davison made one of two free throws at the line to give Wisconsin an 81-80 win.

“As the call was going on we thought they called it in our favor,” Thompson said. “They kept saying 34, and Marek’s 14, so we thought it was a block or whatever you want to call it the opposite way. So when we found out it was against we were all just shocked.”

Stansbury said that he asked for the officials to review the play, and was told that they were not allowed to review it.

WKU is now 0-2 in true road games this year after back-to-back losses against Ohio and Wisconsin.

WKU is back home on Saturday to play Indiana State at 11 a.m. in Diddle Arena.