WKU manage 83-74 win over UTSA to stay atop C-USA

WKU junior forward Aleksej Rostov (20) converts a layup during the first half of the Hilltoppers game against in-conference opponent UTSA Saturday January 24, 2015. (Luke Franke/WKU Herald)

Billy Rutledge

WKU’s 83-74 win over UTSA Saturday in Diddle Arena left the Hilltoppers still wanting more from their performance.  The mood in the post-game press conference was not of a team that has won eight-straight games and started conference play 7-0 for the first time since the 1970’s.

Senior forward George Fant picked up his eighth-straight double double—scoring 17 points and 13 rebounds on zero fouls. Yet, after the game, he was critical of his performance.

“That’s the story of the game tonight, we weren’t aggressive enough,” Fant said. “You all see zero fouls as a good thing, I like to have at-least one or two just knowing I was being aggressive…Part of being a good team is being able to pull out the ones when you aren’t being aggressive enough.”

Sophomore guard Chris Harrison-Docks led WKU with 20 points after netting a career-high six three pointers, but after Saturday’s win, he spoke of composure and calm instead of excited emotion.

“I think we showed maturity, poise…Now that we are 7-0, every time we play we are going to get a team’s best shot,” Harrison-Docks said. “Even though we didn’t play the best we could, we still held our ground and were able to pull out the win.”

“We always look one game at a time, that’s all we can do. Teams are too talented now to overlook. You have to prepare every game like they are the best team and you’re not. I think we’ve been doing a good job preparing for teams and executing.”

Western jumped out early over the Roadrunners holding the lead for a total of 32:07. Sophomore forward Ben Lawson proved again to be the Hilltoppers answer and the center position. The over seven-foot forward scored six points off the bench, grabbed four rebounds and blocked six shots in 27 minutes.

Besides Lawson, the Hilltoppers struggled defensively, allowing 74 points and 15 offensive rebounds to the team that is tied for seventh in Conference USA. Senior guards Trency Jackson and T.J. Price round out double-digit scorers, both notching 13.

The Roadrunners also had four players to score double-digit points, the leader being Keon Lewis with a game-high 24. UTSA kept the game within ten points in the second half, but never went fully away, out-scoring WKU in the paint 30-26 and 12-9 in second chance baskets.

“Ben continues to get better, he is really starting to be active,” Head Coach Ray Harper said. “He had six blocked shots today and could have had more.”

“The biggest problem was the defensive end. We were not good…15 offensive rebounds, that’s all you need to know.”

The Hilltoppers next game will be Jan. 29 at La. Tech, who is tied with UAB for second in the C-USA with a conference record of 5-1.