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WKU mens basketball falls to rival MTSU

Adin Parks
WKU guard Christian Lander (4) competes for a rebound with NMSU guard Jaden Harris (13) in WKU’s Senior Night game in the Diddle Arena on Feb 17.

On a Saturday set for WKU mens basketball to claim their 100th ‘100 Miles of Hate’ victory, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders prevailed, 73-72.

WKU, the only team in Conference-USA to boast a winning record in conference road games, came into the Murphy Center attempting to continue their winning streak, which sat at five coming into the weekend.

Though the Hilltoppers went into the half with a 36-34 lead, a WKU lead was foreign through the first 20 minutes of the game. 

After being down as much as 12 with just 10 minutes left to play, the Hilltoppers’ 19-8 run in the final seven minutes gave them their first lead with just 43 seconds left.

This season, WKU has averaged 47% shooting from the field, but an inefficient first half saw the fastest team in the nation only converting on 35.5% of their attempts. 

The bright spot in the Hilltopper offense was redshirt senior Dontaie Allen. Allen’s nine points on 50% shooting from both the field and beyond the arc propelled the WKU run to end the half. Allen also had two rebounds and two assists to accompany his first half statistics.  

Jared Coleman-Jones, the MTSU junior forward, was doing everything on the floor for the Blue Raiders. Coleman-Jones’ six points, nine rebounds, and three assists were vital in the double-digit lead that MTSU held.

Team First Half Statistics: 

WKU: 11-31 FG, 4-12 3FG, 10-12 FT | 24 Rebounds: 18 Defensive, six Offensive.

MSTU: 10-32 FG, 4-15 3FG, 10-14 FT | 21 Rebounds: 15 Defensive, six Offensive.

The second half opened very differently than the two teams’ matchup earlier in the season, as the Hilltopper offense found themselves unable to produce. 

After allowing yet another double-digit deficit to form at the midpoint of the second half, the Hilltopper offense scraped together a 15-6 run over the span of two minutes to knot the game at 72 with just two minutes to play. 

However, that would not be enough for WKU as they fell to the Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro. 

WKU had the chance to win it, as they received the ball with two seconds left, down by two, but with the entire court to navigate, it was an uphill battle. Tyrone Marshall Jr.’s inbound pass was intercepted by the MTSU defense, and the Blue Raiders secured the 74-72 win.

The Hilltopper offense was led by Babacar Faye. The Senegalese forward had 10 points in the second half alongside his three rebounds, two assists, and a perfect 6-6 shooting performance from the free throw line.

The Blue Raider offense did not undergo a change of  guard, as Coleman-Jones prevailed for MTSU. His 14 second-half points and two rebounds gave the forward a double double. 

Full Game Statistics:

WKU: 22-59 FG, 5-20 3FG, 23-29 FT | 42 Rebounds: 31 Defensive, 11 Offensive.

MSTU: 22-63 FG, 10-28 3FG, 20-30 FT | 43 Rebounds: 29 Defensive, 14 Offensive.

WKU will look to bounce back at home against Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Feb 28 at 7 pm CT.


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