MEN’S BASKETBALL: Hilltoppers pound Thoroughbreds

Danny Schoenbaechler

Kentucky State entered Diddle Arena last night attempting to end the nation’s second-longest home winning streak.

Senior forward David Boyden and his Hilltoppers took just five minutes to prove that wasn’t going to happen.

Boyden scored nine of the games first 14 points as Western raced out to a 14-0 lead. It didn’t get any better for the Thoroughbreds as Western pounded them with a 104-70 drubbing.

“We performed awfully well tonight and really played with great energy,” Western coach Dennis Felton said.

The Toppers streak is now 31 games, including eight this season with an average victory margin of 19.2 points.

Boyden finished the first half with 15 points and tallied a game high 25.

“We had a lot of fun tonight,” Boyden said. “And we had a chance to get out and run a lot.”

Western (13-8 overall, 5-2 Sun Belt Conference) put the game out of hand with a 21-0 run in the middle of the first half. Sophomore guard Patrick Sparks contributed seven points and two assists during the Topper outburst.

The second half turned into more of a fast-break drill than a basketball game, with the Toppers repeatedly scoring on uncontested run-outs. Junior center Caleb Halcomb scored 14 of his career high 20 points on seven dunks. He was assessed a technical foul for hanging on the rim after one of his second half crams.

The blowout provided Felton a chance to dish out extra minutes to his reserves. The bench poured in 49 points led by Halcomb’s 20 and freshman Anthony Winchester’s 16.

“I think I got a lot of minutes because I played well defensively,” Halcomb said. “It was fun and it’s a confidence booster, I’m sure going to try and keep it up.”

Felton said that Halcomb’s shot selection has also improved.

“He took his time and took a lot more shots on his terms tonight,” Felton said.

Halcomb’s previous career-high was six points and his eight rebounds equaled his career best.

The Division II Thoroughbreds drop to 9-12 in this year’s campaign and 0-2 all-time against the Toppers.

After losing 86-65 at Detroit on Saturday, Western will now get back into conference play Wednesday when Denver comes to Bowling Green.

The only non-conference game left on the Toppers schedule is the ESPN Bracket Buster, when Ball State comes to town on Feb. 22. The match-up was announced Sunday night.

“We wanted it to be obvious how much energy we bring to the game,” Felton said. “The challenge is we are going to have to do it again tomorrow and do it again Wednesday.”

Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]