Toppers fall at UALR

Lucas Aulbach

WKU’s perfect start to conference play is over.

The Toppers fell 75-67 on the road against Arkansas-Little Rock Thursday, snapping a two-game winning streak and ending their perfect start to Sun Belt Conference play.

WKU (10-6, 4-1 SBC) struggled all night against UALR (9-7, 3-2 SBC). The Trojans rushed to a 13-point lead in the first half, though a Topper rally turned the deficit into a 36-36 tie at halftime.

Of everyone on the roster, senior guard Marcus Vasquez was the one who tied the game. Vasquez, who joined the basketball team Dec. 23, just a day after finishing his football career playing wide receiver at WKU in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, sunk a three-pointer with about seven seconds to go and was fouled. He hit the ensuing free throw for the final point of the half.

Still, the Toppers couldn’t pull away in the second half. The Trojans clamped down on defense and only allowed WKU to score 31 points in the later period as they pulled back ahead.

Part of WKU’s problems came from behind the arc. The Toppers made just 9-of-33 three-pointers, with junior guard Brandon Harris connecting on 4-of-16 and senior center Teeng Akol recording a goose-egg on 0-of-6 shooting from three.

The Toppers had other issues, though. They recorded 27 personal fouls – sophomore guard T.J. Price, WKU’s leading scorer, fouled out with about seven minutes left in the game – and turned the ball over 22 times.

Harris was the most important piece of the Topper offense once again. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Sophomore guard Kevin Kaspar added another 13 points.

WKU’s road trip to Arkansas will end with a trip to Jonesboro Saturday. The Toppers are scheduled to take on Arkansas State in their next game.