Toppers rally to edge Texas State, 51-50

WKU’s junior forward George Fant (44) looks to shoot around forward Emani Gant (21) during the second half of WKU’s 68-64 victory over Texas State on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. Fant led the Toppers with 21 points for the night.

Tyler Lashbrook

WKU coach Ray Harper said on Tuesday that he wanted the Toppers (19-9, 11-4 Sun Belt) to win the rest of their games and that the they control their own destiny.

On Thursday, his team got the first of the four wins, even though it probably came a little messier than he might have wanted in a 51-50 win.

“With us, it’s not always pretty,” Harper told WKU Radio after the game. “They’ll keep competing.

“They’ve competed to the final buzzer. Some nights it’s looked better than others.”

With just over 20 seconds left, freshman guard Chris Harrison-Docks–an 89 percent free throw shooter–was sent to the free throw line with WKU up one point. He missed, giving the Bobcats an opportunity to win.

The Bobcats got a decent look, but the shot came up short and the Toppers escaped with another victory.

Harper defended his freshman point guard, telling after the game that he’d give the ball to Harrison-Docks in the same situation if the opportunity arises.

“We trust him,” Harper said.

Offense was tough to come by for both teams in the first half. Some of that can be credited to some pesky defense–they are, of course, the two best scoring defenses in the Sun Belt–but some of it had to do with shots simply not falling.

Texas State led for the majority of the half, until Jackson nailed a rainbow three-pointer from the left wing. Junior forward George Fant drew a charge on the other end and junior forward Aaron Adeoye scored on a bank shot from the post to give WKU a 19-16 lead.

But it could only manage three more points the rest of the way as the Bobcats went into halftime with a 25-22 advantage.

Texas State stretched its lead to 12 points five minutes into the second half, but the Toppers clawed their way back, behind junior guard T.J. Price’s offensive production, and eventually took a 47-44 lead.

From there, the game see-sawed back and forth, with the Bobcats cutting the lead to one and the Toppers answering multiple times with a bucket on the other end.

“George Fant was huge late in the basketball game,” Harper said. “That’s who he has to be–he was attacking that basket late, he wanted the basketball and we did a good job of getting it to him late.”

Fant led the Toppers with 14 points.

WKU hopes to keep the road dominance going as it travels to UT Arlington to play the Mavericks on Saturday. The Toppers are 6-1 on the road in the Sun Belt.

“We’d like to get to 7-1 after Saturday night,” Harper said. “This was a big one. It keeps us one game up on Arkansas State.”​