WKU starting five powers bounce-back win over Indiana State

Junior guard, Lamonte Bearden, (1), pushes through the defense of Missouri State Bears to gain possession of the ball on Fri. Nov 10, 2017 at Diddle Arena.

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU (7-4) was dominant in a win over Indiana State (5-6) to bounce back from an 0-2 road trip.

The Hilltoppers got the vast majority of their scoring from the starting five, as 72 of the team’s 81 points came from the starters, and all five of them scored in double figures. Freshman guard Jake Ohmer and forward Marek Nelson ended up tacking on nine points together off the bench in the end.

“I thought we had great balance again,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said after the win. “Five guys in double figures. We shared the ball. Different guys did it…We particularly didn’t shoot the ball great from the 3-point line, and we missed some free throws.”

Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth was WKU’s leading scorer, as he had 19 points, a game-high. Senior guard Darius Thompson got it done in multiple ways, scoring 17 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing five assists. Senior forward Dwight Coleby led the team in rebounds with eight to go along with 11 points.

WKU got off to a quick start, opening the game on a 7-0 run. Other than a scoring drought that lasted over two minutes, not much could slow WKU down in the first half as they took a 43-28 lead into the half. The Hilltoppers shot 59 percent from the field, and outscored ISU 28-14 in the paint. WKU also won the rebound battle 21-18 and the turnover battle 12-9.

Neither team shot well from deep or from the free throw line. WKU shot 20 percent from deep and 57 percent from the free throw line, while ISU shot just 31 percent from deep and missed both of their only two free throws in the first half.

“I thought we set the tone the first four minutes of the game, and kind of separated,” Stansbury said of the first half. “I think we probably went up 10 points at that first timeout. From that point we never really were threatened.”

Coleby had the first half high in points, as he scored 11 to go along with five rebounds. Justin Johnson also had five rebounds, as well as eight points. Darius Thompson stuffed the stat sheet as usual with nine points, four rebounds and four assists in the first half. All of WKU’s 43 first half points came from their five starters.

WKU held that large lead in the second half, as they shot 54 percent from the field and made four 3-pointers. ISU was able to get within 12, but that was the closest they’d get before WKU stretched the lead back out and ultimately won by 16. WKU still struggled from the free throw line, shooting 57 percent from the stripe in the second half.

Jake Ohmer and Marek Nelson managed to contribute off the bench after going scoreless in the first half, as Ohmer had five points and Nelson had four. Hollingsworth had 13 second half points and three rebounds.

WKU will stay home for its next game, as the Hilltoppers will take on Belmont on Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT in Diddle Arena.

“Belmont is really good shooting…play really smart, sound, they don’t go out of the way, do anything crazy,” Thompson said of WKU’s next opponent.

Reporter Jeremy Chisenhall can be reached at 859-760-0198 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @JSChisenhall.