“Not good enough” :Tops fall to Marshall in another close defeat

WKU guard Fredrick Edmond (25) screams after a slam dunk during overtime of an NCAA college basketball game against Marshall at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Matthew Stewart

The Thundering Herd came in to Diddle Arena Saturday, Feb. 13, on a mission to sweep the Hilltoppers in conference play. 

Marshall University managed to leave Bowling Green with their mission completed as they defeated WKU by a final score of 96-93.

However, the Toppers were able to put up a good fight and took the Herd to overtime after tying the game up at 80 at the end of regulation.

“I just feel like we miss a lot of golden opportunities and I don’t know how many shots we missed at the rim, but there were a number,” Head Coach Ray Harper said. “Free throws 63 percent, if you’re going to win games like this you have to do those things it’s just that simple.”

Harper still presses the fact that the team has a lot of new players that need to be able to complete the chemistry on court.

“We got a lot of new guys that have never played together and at some point they got to figure out how to play together. We have made strides but still it’s not good enough,” Harper said.

The Toppers have found themselves in close battles late in games on a number of occasions this season. “If you go back to the games that we had one possession – Middle, FIU, UTEP,” Harper said. “To win games like that you execute and you win, or you don’t execute and you lose.”

In the second half the Toppers could have put the Herd away for good, but Marshall stayed strong and the game headed to overtime tied at 80.

Overtime was an offensive showcase for both teams as there were a combined 29 points scored in the five-minute period. 

In the final seconds, Marshall went to a play that had worked throughout the entire game, a backdoor cut alley-oop. The play worked once again on the Hilltopper defense.

“It’s kind of real frustrating,” junior guard Fredrick Edmond said. “You know we were just there we were so close, we could have blocked the alley-oop, or I could have hit the free throw.”

Edmond had the ball in his hands for the last legitimate opportunity for the Tops. He got fouled after he drove the lane. He hit the first free throw but missed his second attempt.

“Sometimes the coach knows when I got a mismatch, he will tell me to drive cause I will either get fouled or it’s gonna be a bucket,” Edmond said.

The Hilltoppers had four players finish in double figures. Edmond filled the stat sheet with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Sophomore forward Justin Johnson completed another double-double on the season with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Redshirt senior guard Aaron Cosby had a rough night shooting, with 4-12 from the floor Cosby assembled 13 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists.

Senior forward Aleksej Rostov had a big-time role in the Hilltopper offense converting on a couple timely pick-and-pop jump shots. The forward from Latvia ended the night with 12 points and four rebounds.

“It just comes down to finishing things at the end,” Johnson said. “It starts back Monday. I guarantee when conference (tournament) rolls around, nobody is going to want see us the first round cause we’re going to be ready.”