WKU Men’s Basketball survives late scare from MTSU to win third straight


Allie Schallert

WKU guard Dayvion McKnight rushes past an MTSU player towards the basket during the WKU v MTSU game at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. on Feb. 9, 2023. WKU won 93-89.

Cole McIntire

WKU Men’s Basketball (14-11, 6-8 C-USA) defeated Middle Tennessee State University (15-10, 8-6 C-USA) 93-89, on Thursday, Feb. 9 at E.A. Diddle Arena. 

The Hilltoppers have now won three consecutive games in Conference USA play. 

“There’s a fine line between winning and losing,” Coach Rick Stansbury said. The past three contests have been close victories, with only seven points or less separating WKU from their opponents.


“In the locker room it’s very positive now,” junior guard Dayvion McKnight said. “We went through a rough patch and then overcame it. It made us stronger as a team … It’s just fun playing with these guys.”

The Hilltoppers were led by McKnight. The slasher tallied a season high 33 points. McKnight was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting a career-high of 13. 

“Today was just one of those days,” Mcknight said. “My teammates found me and had trust in me.” 

The Hilltoppers shot 54.5% from the field and 35.3% from three. At the free throw line the squad went 27-29. Their efficiency at the free throw line helped them to survive a late comeback from the Raiders. 

To start the game WKU jumped out to a quick lead. Fifth-year senior Emmanuel Akot opened the game with a three, followed by McKnight. The Hilltoppers kept them at bay. At the end of the first half WKU led 49-39.

In the first half, the red and white shot an impressive 63% from the field. They created smart, easy baskets in the paint. There were multiple high flying connections to senior center Jamarion Sharp. 

In the second half WKU won the first four minutes of play. They forced multiple turnovers, controlling the pace. With about 11 minutes remaining, the Raiders went on a 10-0 run, making the score 70-65. 

MTSU took their first lead with 3:31 left of the game, but it only lasted 19 seconds. The key moment of the game came down to the final minute of play. 

The Hilltoppers held a slim 84-82 lead. Akot nailed a jumper in the paint to extend the lead. A courageous defensive stand from the Hilltoppers sealed the game. The Hilltoppers went 7-8 from the free throw line to remove any hope for a MTSU comeback.

The Hilltoppers are set to play at the University of Charlotte next Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. CST.

Sports reporter Cole McIntire can be reached at [email protected] .