Hilltoppers win fourth straight to get back to .500 in C-USA play


Marshall C. Canupp

Hilltopper’s graduate guard Camron Justice (55) drives to the basket attempting to draw the foul from Florida Atlantic University Owl’s freshman guard Alijah Martin (15) during their matchup on Feb. 10 in Diddle Arena.

Kaden Gaylord-Day, Men's Basketball Reporter

WKU (14-11, 6-6 C-USA) escapes UTSA (8-18, 1-12 C-USA) 71-65, winning its fourth straight and moving to .500 in conference play. 

WKU super senior Josh Anderson led the way with 18 points, six rebounds and two assists. Senior Jairus Hamilton followed with 18 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore Dayvion McKnight finished with 10 points, six assists and three rebounds. 

Junior Jacob Germany led all scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds while junior Erik Czumbel finished with 14 points, four assists and two rebounds. They were the only two players to reach double digits for UTSA.

“When you go on the road, you just have to find ways sometimes,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We probably weren’t at our best offensively in some ways, but the only stat that matters when you go on the road is finding a way to get that W.”

The Roadrunners took an early advantage, leading for the first five minutes before WKU turned on the burners. The league’s most efficient shooting team had a first half full of highlights in the Lone Star State. 

Graduate Camron Justice started off hitting consecutive three pointers, which Anderson followed with back-to-back dunks that highlighted a big run for the Hilltoppers. For a team that struggles from deep, WKU started the game shooting 6-of-7 from behind the arc. 

The Hilltoppers jumped up by double digits before going on a slump. They missed six straight three-point attempts and committed six turnovers that allowed the Roadrunners to climb back in the game. 

Germany carried UTSA on his back, scoring 12 points and grabbing six rebounds in the first half while dominating the matchup in the paint. WKU big man Jamarion Sharp struggled in the first half after having a great game against FAU, scoring one point and grabbing only two rebounds in 17 minutes. 

Anderson turned into the star of the night. He scored 12 points, grabbing five rebounds and two steals in the first half. In the last 8:17, UTSA outscored WKU 17-7 to help minimize the deficit as much as it could. The Hilltoppers took a two-point lead into the locker room. 

Germany came out and kept the pressure on the Hilltoppers, scoring five quick points. After an injury to Hamilton, Josh Anderson checked back into the game and continued his hot and aggressive play making. He hit a three and got an and-one lay in. 

Germany’s play allowed the Roadrunners to take their first lead, 55-54, since the 15-minute mark of the first half. Czumbel served the backup role to Germany as he was 4-of-6 from behind the arc. He came into the game 4-of-32 for the season.

With Justice struggling shooting the ball, Hamilton stepped up. He hit a three followed by two free throws that started a quick 7-0 run, forcing UTSA to call a timeout as WKU jumped back up by two possessions. 

McKnight came alive after UTSA regained the lead, scoring six straight points after starting the game 1-of-7. He helped put WKU back up by four points. The Hilltoppers went on to close the game out after stopping the Roadrunners on the other end. 

“It’s big, we love every moment of it,” Hamilton said. “We know he can do it every single night. So to see him go out there and do it every night where he gets an opportunity to ease some pressure off of us. It’s really big, and we always appreciate that.”

Sharp played a lot better in the second half, finishing with five points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. WKU shot 47% for the game while shooting 9-of-24 from behind the arc and 12-of-21 from the free throw line. 

“For this weekend, we wanted to come out here and get two more dubs,” Anderson said. “We got the first one, now we gotta go get another one.”

WKU will travel to Southern Miss for a Valentine’s Day game Monday night at 7 p.m.

Men’s Basketball Reporter Kaden Gaylord-Day can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @_KLG3.