WKU drops 76-67 decision to No. 4 Louisville in sold-out Diddle Arena

Head coach Ray Harper scratches his head at the offical during WKU’s 63-64 loss against Belmont Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Clark/HERALD

Billy Rutledge

WKU basketball (5-5) hosted the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals in a heated affair on Saturday but came up short, 76-67. The Hilltoppers only had two players score in double figures including senior guard T.J. Price, who led WKU with 24 points and seven rebounds.

The senior has allotted at least 20 points in four-straight contests. He netted 17 of his 24 points in the second half.

Freshman guard DJ Clayton had his best game as a Hilltopper, scoring a career-high 14 points while shooting four-for-four from three-point range and hauling in four rebounds.

“I thought we competed,” Head Coach Ray Harper said. “Physically we competed extremely hard…We gave ourselves a chance.”

After a three-pointer by sophomore guard Chris Harrison-Docks cut Louisville’s lead to 17-15 with 10:38 remaining, the Cards went on a 11-0 run and held WKU scoreless for 5:18. A three-point basket by Clayton ended the run and sparked a 7-0 spurt by the Hilltoppers over two minutes to cut Louisville’s 13-point lead to six with two minutes left in the first half.

WKU trailed the Cardinals (10-0) 29-24 at halftime, but it was the scrum before the break that dictated much of the remainder of the game. After a fight for a loose ball, Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell was issued a flagrant 2 foul and ejected from the game after throwing what appeared to be a punch at WKU’s Avery Patterson.

Harrell scored 14 points and had six rebounds before he escorted himself to the locker room. Clayton was the only other player issued a technical after the event while both benches were given offsetting technical fouls. There was a total of six technical fouls called in the contest.

WKU had the Cardinals within four points at 58-54 after a 7-1 run with 5:24 left; however, the Cards used a 9-1 run over a 1:47 time span to take a 67-55 lead with 3:23 remaining in the game.

The Hilltoppers went on a quick 5-0 run, but the Cardinals’ free throw shooting prowess was too much for WKU to overcome, as the Hilltoppers fell, 76-67.

Louisville sophomore guard Terry Rozier led all scorers with 32 points. Rozier scored 26 second-half points to lead the Cards to their 10th-straight victory of the year. He finished 11-13 from the free throw line to help Louisville finish with a 87 percent (26-30) free throw shooting percentage.

WKU shot 37.5 percent from the floor (21-56) while committing 15 turnovers. The Hilltoppers shot 60 percent (15-30) from the free throw line.

“You can’t beat good teams and shoot 60 percent from the free throw line,” Harper said. “We need some guys that we can count on every night, and if we can do that we have a chance to be good…But if it’s a guessing game from game-to-game we’re going to have nights where we struggle.”

WKU outrebounded the Cards 37-35, but Louisville led WKU in several other categories including assists, blocks, three-point percentage and turnovers.

Price had some good words about the fans that attended the sold-out game. The announced attendance was 7,598.

“Thanks to all the fans who came out to support us,” Price said. “It was great to see.”

WKU’s next game will be Saturday, Dec. 27 against Brescia (KY) at Diddle Arena.