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WKU mens basketball falls to Louisiana Tech

Eli Randolph
Forward Babacar Faye (5) drives the ball to the basket during Western Kentucky University’s game against Louisiana Tech on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but after Wednesday’s performance, the Hilltoppers wish they left Louisiana Tech at the pound, as the Bulldogs defeated the Hilltoppers 90-84.

The first half of the game was dominated by LA Tech. The Bulldogs commanded from buzzer to buzzer, stretching their lead up to 13 points with less than five minutes to play. Ultimately, the Bulldogs still sported just under a double-digit lead heading into the break, 47-40.

The early domination from the LA Tech offense was thanks in part to a 16-2 run that lasted nearly 10 minutes.

The first half offense for the Bulldogs cannot be attributed to one person. An impressive outing from Isaiah Crawford and Sean Newman Jr. saw the duo lead the team in points, rebounds and assists. Newman was represented by his 11 points, four rebounds, and four assists while Crawford had 10 points, five rebounds, and an assist on 50% shooting.

At the same time, the Hilltoppers spent the first half playing catch-up. Redshirt-senior guard Dontaie Allen led WKU through the first 20 minutes. His 12 points and two rebounds topped the team in each category respectively. 

Team First Half Statistics: 

WKU: 15-34 FG, 6-15 3FG, 4-5 FT | 16 Rebounds: 11 Defensive, five Offensive.

LA Tech: 15-29 FG, 8-13 3FG, 9-15 FT | 20 Rebounds: 15 Defensive, five Offensive.

The second half looked like it was set to be more of the same. Even with the Hilltoppers bringing the game within striking distance, neither team did much of anything without a response.

That was until the Hilltoppers’ 14-4 run in the final eight minutes brought the game within a single point.

With just under a minute left to play and a four-point Bulldog lead, senior guard Khristian Lander missed a catch-and-shoot three that would have brought the game within one, but ultimately was the key to the Bulldog win.

Freshman Teagan Moore was the man keeping the Hilltoppers in the game. The true freshman from Dry Ridge, Kentucky had 16 points and three rebounds. He was able to cash in on eight of his 10 trips to the free throw line. Moore also contributed nine of the Hilltoppers’ last 19 points. With his 22 total points, he set a new career high, breaking the 16-point record he set for himself earlier this season.

It was Newman Jr. again who led the charge for the LA Tech offense. His eight points, three rebounds, and four assists propelled the Bulldog offense to the win. 

With the loss, the Hilltoppers split the series with the Bulldogs. Yet, when Moore and Lander were asked about the potential of facing off against LA Tech in the Conference-USA tournament, they had a very short desire.

The team would like a third game “A whole lot.” 

While WKU Head Coach Steve Lutz said that he wouldn’t mind running it back against the Bulldogs, he didn’t seem to want to limit his team to any competition.

“I’d like to see all the teams,” Coach Lutz said, “I think we can beat any team in the league. I don’t want to have to see LA Tech versus Sam Houston versus Jacksonville State, I think we have enough talent to win the conference tournament.”

The Hilltoppers hit the road on Saturday to take on the Florida International Panthers, hoping to break the two-game losing streak.

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