Tops earn big win over Louisiana Tech on Senior Night

Redshirt senior guard Aaron Cosby looks towards a Louisiana Tech player during the first half of WKU’s game against the Bulldogs on March 5. Cosby scored a career-high 34 points in the Hilltoppers’ 96-90 victory. 

Matthew Stewart

The WKU men’s basketball team had a lot on the line coming in to senior night on Saturday. The Toppers were looking for a few things: get above a .500 winning percentage, gain momentum heading in to the Conference USA tournament and get a win in their final regular-season game.

With the help of 34 points from redshirt senior guard Aaron Cosby, the Tops took down the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech 96-90, improving their record to 16-15.

“Whatever I had to do to get the win. My teammates were telling me to be aggressive. You know, look to score. I got to the foul line a lot which helped,” Cosby said.

The Hilltoppers also gained some footing in the Conference USA tournament seeding. The win over La. Tech moved WKU up to an eight seed in the tournament. Head Coach Ray Harper and company will take on ninth-seeded North Texas at noon on Wednesday.

Before the game the team’s three seniors were recognized in front of a crowd of 4,591 WKU faithful. Senior forward Aleksej Rostov, redshirt senior forward Nigel Snipes and Cosby were recognized on the court with their families.

The crowd that showed up for senior night was loud, and the Tops credited them as a major help throughout the game.

“They were into it from the start; you know they were our sixth man tonight. We couldn’t have did it without them. Thankful for the crowd tonight at my last game in Diddle,” Cosby said.

The game started out slow for the Tops as they allowed the Bulldogs to go up by as many as 10 points in the first half. Junior forward Anton Waters provided a spark off the bench and put up eight points to give WKU some momentum.

At halftime the Hilltoppers were up by nine with a score of 38-29.

Early in the second half the Bulldogs went on a 9-0 run to get within one point of WKU.

Junior forward Ben Lawson made big play after big play in the game. With a couple of dunks, Lawson brought the crowd to its feet.

“I just felt like I was finally myself again. I’ve been struggling the last couple games. My teammates have always been there for me. Actually, my mom before the game, she said “put on a show” and I was like, ‘you know what, I’m just gonna go for it’,” Lawson said.

Lawson threw down a big-time dunk with four seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime with a score of 79-79.

“I think the one thing that has been lacking is me at the rim, being a rim protector. I felt today I kinda stepped up and showed a bit of toughness for once,” Lawson said.

Lawson finished with 11 points along with four blocks. The defensive presence of WKU down low was an apparent problem for the Bulldogs in the contest.

“As a perimeter defender, knowing that you’ve got a guy protecting the rim behind you, it just makes you wanna pressure up a bit more and play harder defense, because you know he has your back at the rim,” Cosby said.

WKU showed heart in battling back for the overtime victory, and Harper credited the team’s recent improvement for the win. 

“Coach in the locker room said ‘two weeks ago, we would have lost by 10.’ A month ago, we were dropping our heads in close games, and now we are starting to show the top teams in the conference what we’re about,” Lawson said.

The Toppers will look to have a big week from Cosby in Birmingham. With two back-to-back games of scoring more than 25 points, the senior guard is ready to work.

“I look to carry it forward. You know whatever it takes to win. If I can score more or defend the other teams’ best guard, whatever it is, I’m willing to do it. It’s win or go home now,” Cosby said.

Be sure to check out a preview of the Conference USA basketball tournament on Monday.