WKU falls to Iowa in Cancun opener

Lucas Aulbach

A trip to the beaches of Cancun, Mexico produced a frustrating night Tuesday.

WKU suffered its second loss of the young season, falling 63-55 to Iowa in the 2012 Cancun Challenge.

The Toppers (2-2) kept it close, but never led against the Hawkeyes in the first of two games WKU will play at the tournament.

Coach Ray Harper said the Toppers might be walking away with a win if a few more shots would have fallen. WKU suffered from a poor shooting night, hitting 20-of-60 shots and just 5-of-21 three-point attempts.

“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Harper told WKU Radio after the game. “We had some really good looks but we did not shoot the ball well and to beat a team like this, you’ve got to make some shots and tonight we didn’t.”

The Toppers also gave the game away on the boards, giving up 34 rebounds to the Hawkeyes while recording just 24 of their own.

WKU had one player pull in double-digit rebounds — junior guard Brandon Harris. The junior-college transfer recorded a game-high 10 rebounds to go with his five points on 2-of-8 shooting.

He said WKU had open shots but couldn’t convert when it needed to.

“I think we executed very well tonight — maybe in stands we didn’t, but we got the shots we wanted,” Harris said. “Everybody had open looks, we got the looks we normally hit in other games but tonight it didn’t fall and some days it’s like that.”

Sophomore guard T.J. Price led the Topper offense with 16 points, including thee of the team’s five three-pointers. Senior guard Jamal Crook added 14 points and six assists.

A lack of bench scoring buried the offense those two brought to the table. The seven players that came off the bench for WKU scored a total of seven points, shooting just 3-of-13 from the field.

The Toppers were never out of the game, though, keeping the scoring deficit to within single-digits for almost all of the game.

Harper said WKU was in a position to win but just couldn’t put it away.

“We had several opportunities and unfortunately we missed out on some really good situations,” Harper said. “But the effort was great. I thought we really competed, it just didn’t go our way tonight.”

WKU will have a chance to right the ship on Wednesday in the next round of the Cancun Challenge. The Toppers will take on DePaul at 6 p.m.