Hilltoppers take down Golden Eagles at home

Junior forward Anton Waters (42) dunks the ball during the WKU USM game on Thursday in Diddle Arena. Hilltoppers won 75-60 and Waters ended the night with three rebounds and four points. Ebony Cox/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

Thursday night the Golden Eagles of Southern Mississippi (9-19) came to Diddle Arena to take on the WKU men’s basketball team (15-15). The Toppers were looking to build some momentum heading in to the Conference USA basketball tournament next week in Birmingham, Alabama. WKU managed to cruise past Southern Miss, taking down the Golden Eagles with a final score of 70-65.

The Toppers came out hot and scored the first five points of the contest unanswered. WKU was able to maintain the lead for the entirety of the game, going up by as many as 24 points.

Senior guard Aaron Cosby took the game into his own hands Thursday night. The Illinois transfer put up 25 points, going 7-13 from three-point range. Cosby also had four rebounds and two assists.

“I don’t know what it is, I kinda get in the zone after a couple go in. I love playing here, and we’ve got one more game Saturday. [We’re] just trying to leave out with a bang,” Cosby said.

WKU moved the ball well tonight, totaling 17 assists compared to Southern Miss’s nine. 

“That was the emphasis today before the game, making the extra pass,” Cosby said.

“That was one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about going down the home stretch. It’s going to be critical that we take care of the basketball and that we’re willing passers and that we are willing to give up a good shot for a great shot,” Head Coach Ray Harper said.

The Tops are beginning to see a more balanced effort on the offensive side with solid minutes from senior forward Aleksej Rostov and freshman guard Marlon Hunter. 

“I think he’s (redshirt senior forward Nigel Snipes) going to be a key for us Saturday and next week. I think Marlon’s playing well right now,” said Harper. “We’re getting some production from different guys. That’s good to see we’re getting contributions from everyone.”

Saturday night at 7 p.m. Louisiana Tech (23-7) will come to Diddle Arena for the Toppers’ final regular season game. The second-place Bulldogs are a talented team.

“Athletes, talent, they turn your mistakes into points. One of the premiere players in the league in Alex Hamilton. They’ll present a huge challenge for us, it’s a big game for them but it’s a big game for us as well,” Harper said. “Another measuring stick to see where we’re at.”