Hilltoppers fall in Huntington 87-82

Sophomore forward Ben Lawson slams the ball home during the final minute of WKU’s game against Bowling Green State on Dec. 3. Lawson scored 12 points and was a perfect 4-4 from the free-throw line as the Hilltoppers defeated the Falcons 62-52. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Billy Rutledge

The Marshall Thundering Herd hosted a white-out in Huntington, West Virginia for Saturday’s game against the Hilltoppers. WKU—who was tied for first place in the Conference USA—failed to survive the tough environment as they lost 87-82.

The loss marks the team’s first consecutive loss since November.

WKU overcame offensive struggles in the first half, and had a 66-65 lead with 8:59 remaining in the game. But the Hilltopper’s lack of defense allowed for Marshall to began to pull away.

Forward Ryan Taylor and guard Austin Loop dominated for Marshall, scoring 21 and 14 points respectably. Taylor also grabbed 11 rebounds as the Herd shot 46.7 (28-60) percent from the field.

“We knew coming into the game that they would be a great shooting team,” sophomore forward Ben Lawson said on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network. “We’d seen from tape that they had built their offense since the last time we played them and unfortunately our defense didn’t stand up to their offense tonight.”

On the offensive side, redshirt sophomore Chris Harrison-Docks led WKU with 20 points and seven rebounds, both one shy of career-highs, while Lawson scored 12 points off the bench.

Both senior guards Trency Jackson and T.J. Price scored 13 points while senior forward George Fant tacked on 10 points and seven rebounds.

Marshall rattled off a 5-0 run with 3:37 remaining in the second half to give the Herd a 74-69 lead, and what seemed to be the final spark to win.

After that, a crowd of 6,135 at Cam Henderson Center gave WKU their fifth road loss of the season. The loss comes when four of the next six games for the Hilltoppers are on the road with WKU’s 4-5 record away from E.A. Diddle Arena this season.

“We’re just going to have to go back to the drawing board,” Lawson said. “The team almost looked comfortable against us when usually teams are looking pressured.”

As of press time, the loss put WKU into a three-way tie for second place in the Conference USA standings with UAB and UTEP. The Hilltopper’s next game will be Thursday, Feb. 19 at UAB.