Toppers spilt games in final road trip of regular season

Western Kentucky University Junior, Fredrick Edmond, (25) drives towards the goal against Old Dominion University during the Hilltoppers 26th game. The game is held at Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky on February 18 2015. Jacob Hurdt/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

Crunch time is nearing, and the WKU men’s basketball team (14-15) seems to be getting closer to being tournament-ready.

This past weekend, the Hilltoppers played their final two away games of the regular season.

Their matchups were with the top two teams in Conference USA: Middle Tennessee (18-9) and the University of Alabama, Birmingham (24-5).

The Toppers had the opportunity to get two big wins before returning to Diddle Arena for the final two regular season games this Thursday and Saturday.

The first game of the weekend was a Thursday night contest against longtime rival MTSU. The Toppers took care of business in their trip to Murfreesboro and won 78-72.

The win over the Blue Raiders puts WKU 1-1 with MTSU on the season after dropping a game in the final seconds on Jan. 30 in Diddle Arena.

WKU looked solid on offense as it took the ball to the basket with ease. The Toppers outscored MTSU 40-26 in the paint while also grabbing 11 more rebounds in the contest.

The offense was firing on all cylinders for the Toppers, who had three players in double digits. Redshirt senior Aaron Cosby scored 23 points on 8-17 shooting and 5-8 from deep while also snagging six rebounds.

Junior guard Fredrick Edmond cut and drove to the rim. The Blue Raider defense could not keep him out of the lane as the guard finished with 15 points and nine rebounds on 5-7 shooting.

Junior forward Anton Waters came to Murfreesboro ready to play and muscled in 12 points going 6-7 from the floor; he came away with five boards.

The Toppers managed to lead for most of the game, going up by as many as 10 points over MTSU.

Late Saturday morning, the Toppers took to the court with UAB for the second time this season. WKU was looking to go 2-0 against UAB this season after taking them down in Diddle Arena on Jan. 30 and simultaneously breaking the nations’ longest win streak.

The Toppers fell short on Saturday, falling to the Blazers 67-71 in a tightly fought contest that went down to the final minute of play.

The Toppers started the game on the right foot, displaying an effective offense. WKU was up by 11 points 11 minutes into the first half.

UAB then went on a 10-0 run to go up 27-25 with less than four minutes to play in the first half. The Blazers didn’t look back and led 31-29 going into halftime.

Four WKU players scored in double figures during the battle with UAB. Sophomore forward Justin Johnson led all scorers with 19 points on 7-11 shooting while also grabbing seven rebounds.

Redshirt senior forward Nigel Snipes put up 14 points going 4-6 from three-point land. Edmond filled the stat sheet with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists. Freshman Marlon Hunter added 10 points of his own.

The Toppers have two games remaining before heading to Birmingham for the C-USA tournament. This Thursday at 8 p.m., the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi (7-19) will come to Diddle. This Saturday night at 7 p.m., the Toppers will see Louisiana Tech for the final game of the season.