WKU Sweeps exhibition slate with win over Cumberland

Jeremy Chisenhall

WKU picked up its third exhibition win of the year with a 109-66 victory over Cumberland thanks to double-digit scoring contributions from six players and a near triple-double from senior guard Darius Thompson.

It was a big night for Kentucky natives, as freshman guards Taveion Hollingsworth and Jake Ohmer, and senior forward Justin Johnson each scored 21 points. Senior forward Dwight Coleby had 17 points and freshman forward Marek Nelson had 11 points.

“Our team has some spurtability about it,” Stansbury said. “We can score baskets in a hurry sometimes.”

Ohmer said that he’s learned that there’s no shortage of scoring ability for WKU this season.

“Everybody on the team can score the ball,” Ohmer said. “We know that. Everybody knows that.”

Thompson was the performer of the night, as he finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. His father, Lonnie Thompson, is the head coach of Cumberland. Thompson was 3-6 from deep.

“Darius is a good shooter. We see him shoot the basketball all the time in practice,” Stansbury said. “His thing is, he just hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to shoot the basketball.”

Stansbury said that playing for Virginia, where Thompson transferred from, gave Thompson less scoring chances because Virginia runs a slower pace and Thompson came off the bench.

The Hilltoppers had another disruptive performance on the defensive end, forcing 20 turnovers, 11 of which were steals. They converted those turnovers into 33 points. Coleby was also able to disrupt a lot of shots, recording four blocks.

“I thought we were active again,” Stansbury said. “When we can get stops and get out in transition — and those guards, Darius out in transition, or Taveion out in transition or Jake spotting up — we can put some pressure on defense in a hurry.”

WKU also had a major edge on the boards, out-rebounding Cumberland 37-23.

Cumberland had the energy to compete with WKU early, but the Hilltoppers had several major runs in the first half. They closed the first half on a 23-2 run in which they held Cumberland to just one make in 10 shot attempts from the field.

Jake Ohmer led the way in the first half with 16 points, including a 3-point make at the buzzer to end the half. The Hilltoppers shot 61.8 percent from the field in the first half but just 25 percent from 3-point range. Their only two makes from deep came from Ohmer, who shot 2-4 for the half.

With just seven active players, WKU experienced some un-needed foul trouble in the first half, as senior forward Dwight Coleby, senior guard Tyler Miller and freshman forward Marek Nelson all picked up multiple fouls.

The second half yielded different results as far as fouls and shooting for the Hilltoppers. WKU went 6-9 from deep to bring their percentage up to 47.1 for the game. They didn’t even let Cumberland into the bonus, as they have just four team fouls in the second half. Another couple big runs and 10 makes in their last 11 field goal attempts helped the Hilltoppers break 100 points late in the second half.

WKU is still awaiting the NCAA’s decision on the eligibility of freshman guard Josh Anderson and redshirt sophomore forward Moustapha Diagne, Stansbury said. He also said that he’s not sure if redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden will be healthy for WKU’s first regular season game on Friday.

WKU opens regular season play on Friday against Missouri State at 7 p.m. in Diddle Arena. In that game, they’ll play against a potential NBA lottery pick in senior forward Alize Johnson.

With the Missouri State big man coming to town, at least 10 NBA scouts have requested to be in attendance, according to the associate director of athletic communications at WKU, Zach Greenwell.

Justin Johnson said that he has not yet studied Alize Johnson and Missouri State, and he kept his focus on his team. 

“Supposedly they’ve got a good player,” Johnson said. “We have good players on our team too.”