WKU falls to UAB on Senior Night

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Tucker Covey

Junior guard Dayton McKnight (20 and redshirt junior shooting guard Dontaie Allen (11) help fifth year forward Jairus Hamilton up from the ground after a hard fall during the matchup with UAB in E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. WKU lost 72-60.

Cole McIntire

WKU Men’s Basketball (15-14, 7-11 C-USA) was defeated by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers (22-8, 13-6 C-USA) 72-60 on Saturday, Feb. 25 at E.A. Diddle Arena. 

WKU Athletics honored three seniors before the game; forward Jarius Hamilton, forward Emmanuel Akot and guard Luke Frampton. All three of these seniors have played a pivotal role in WKU’s season.

The Hilltoppers were 41% from the field and 25% from three. The Blazers held control for the majority of the game. UAB had the lead 68% of regulation. The Hilltoppers were -7 in the turnover margin, with 14. 

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Hamilton led the team with 20 points. In his final game in E. A. Diddle Arena, Hamilton went 7-11 from the field and 3-5 from behind the arc. Senior center Jamarion Sharp led the team in blocks with six. Junior guard Dayvion McKnight was held to four points.

“It’s hard for us to manufacture points when [McKnight] is held to four points,” Head Coach Rick Stansbury said. “They made sure to keep Dave out of that lane.”

The first half was a tight contest. WKU was 44% from the field and 33% from three. The Hilltoppers committed nine turnovers and were outrebounded 24-12. Hamilton led the team with 10 points in the half. Hamilton shot a perfect 4-4 and hit his one three-point attempt. 

The Hilltoppers won the first four minutes of play leading 8-4. WKU posted their first score off an alley-oop pass from McKnight to Sharp. The pass came from well behind the arc to ignite the crowd in E. A. Diddle Arena. 

UAB went on a 16-4 run from 13:27 to 9:12, forcing Stansbury to call a timeout. Junior forward Javian Daivs led the Blazers in the run with 8 as UAB went 6-7 and tallied three steals during their explosive stint. UAB led 22-15.

WKU battled back to close the first half. With 1:23 left WKU took back the lead, making the score 29-28. UAB went on a 5-0 run to close the half, making the score 33-29. 

To open the half, Hamilton was the only scorer for the red and white. The forward put up six points in the first four minutes of play. Allen hit two free throws following the 16-minute mark, making the score 41-37 in favor of UAB.

Following Allen’s trip to the charity stripe UAB went on a 8-2 run. Senior guard Jordan Walker hit an NBA range three to force Stansbury to take his second timeout of the game. Following the timeout sophomore guard Eric Gaines slammed home a dunk off a steal. UAB led 55-39.

The Hilltoppers rallied. Creating a 7-0 run of their own. Marshall Jr. flew high for a slam dunk following a missed UAB dunk on the other end. WKU showed flashes of a comeback, but UAB always had a response.  The Blazers went on to close out the game. 

The Hilltoppers will travel to the University of Texas at El Paso on Thursday, Mar. 2 at 8 p.m. CST. 

 

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