Hilltoppers can’t overcome rough start, drop game against Louisville

WKU’s guard Chris McNeal (1) drives past Eastern Kentucky University’s guard Paul Jackson (2) during the Hilltopper’s 86-84 win Tuesday at Diddle Arena.

By: John Reecer

The WKU basketball team fell to 6-5 on the season Saturday as they lost 78-56 to the 19th ranked Louisville Cardinals (9-1) in Louisville, Kentucky. The Cardinals now lead the all-time series between the two schools 40-39. 

The Hilltoppers could not overcome a poor first half in which they only scored 16 points, the lowest point total in a single half all year for WKU. The Hilltoppers also managed just seven made shots in the period while they turned the ball over 12 times to the Louisville defense.

Sophomore forward Justin Johnson did not score a single point in the first half as WKU’s leading scorer on the season only managed 10 points and six rebounds total on the day.

However, the Hilltoppers came out of halftime with a new attitude as they went on a 19-8 overall run to start the half. The stretch cut an 18-point halftime deficit to just seven points as they trailed Louisville 42-35.

Key to the WKU comeback run was junior guard Fredrick Edmond. His high-energy play in the second half helped him to be the Hilltoppers’ overall leading scorer and rebounder in the contest with 14 points and eight boards, respectively.

Another bright spot for WKU on the day was junior forward Ben Lawson who added eight points, four rebounds and three blocks to the Hilltopper effort.

WKU played a much better game in the second half as they only committed four turnovers while also notching 40 total points in the period. The Hilltoppers also won the battle on the glass in the second half by a 22-19 margin.

Despite the run, the Cardinals punched back with a stretch of their own which would put the Hilltoppers away. Louisville scored 16 of the next 19 points to reclaim a 58-38 lead.

One difference-maker in the contest was how both teams shot from behind the three-point line. Louisville shot 50 percent on 7-14 shooting. WKU shot just 2-18 from beyond the arc, a 12 percent clip. The Hilltoppers came into the matchup shooting 40 percent from three-point range, which was good for 29th in the nation.

Senior guard Aaron Cosby struggled the most from beyond the arc as the Louisville native shot 1-6 from three-point land and 2-10 overall from the field. He would go on to score just seven points in the contest.  

Four different Cardinals notched double-digit scoring compared to only two Hilltoppers who accomplished the feat. Sophomore guard Quentin Snider scored a game high 16 points for Louisville, while senior guards Trey Lewis and Damion Lee added 15 apiece.

The Hilltoppers will be back in action Tuesday night at 7:00 PM (CT) against Detroit University in E.A. Diddle Arena. The game will also be televised nationally on Fox College Sports.