Breaking news, sports and campus news from Western Kentucky University

WKU mens basketball drops third straight game at FIU

Dominic Di Palermo
LA Tech’s guard Sean Newman Jr. (4) drives the lane during a game against WKU at E.A Diddle Arena on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.

WKU brought a bit of darkness to the Sunshine State Saturday, as they continued their losing ways against Florida International, 85-83.

The first half was quite a struggle for the Hilltopper offense. One of the few bright spots was Brandon Newman. Newman had 10 points, the only WKU player in the double digits, and five rebounds on 4-7 shooting from the field and 2-3 shooting from three.

On the other hand, Don McHenry, the team’s leading scorer did not even attempt a shot until the final five minutes of the half. All in all, McHenry’s inability to create offensive momentum showed in the team’s efficiency: 38.9% shooting from the field, 28.6% shooting from three, and 20% shooting from the free throw line.

The Panthers, however, were finding offense almost everywhere that they looked. Playing without their best player, Arturo Dean, who was ruled out with an injury before the game, FIU could not be contained. 

Jaidon Lipscomb was the man who stepped up to the challenge. Lipschomb’s 12 points, on 4-7 shooting from the field, all coming behind the three-point line, led the team against the Hilltoppers in the first half. 

The Panther’s defense was the main cause of concern. Five blocks and three steals, as well as generating nearly 20% of their first-half points off of turnovers, allowed the team to coast to an easy 13-point lead through the first 20 minutes, 44-31

Team First Half Statistics: 

WKU: 14-36 FG, 2-7 3FG, 1-5 FT | 22 Rebounds: 16 Defensive, six Offensive.

FIU: 17-36 FG, 7-15 3FG, 3-5 FT | 24 Rebounds: 19 Defensive, five Offensive.

The second half flipped the script. Thanks to a 10-0, 9-0, and 10-1 run all in the same half, the Hilltoppers had the game knotted up at 70 with just under six minutes to go. 

At the 5:00 mark, thanks to a Babacar Faye free throw, the Hilltoppers took their first lead of the night. 

Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, the late offensive push from the Panthers would be too much to keep their lead.

A Javaunte Hawkins jumper as the clock nearly expired, extended the Panther lead to two, a margin that the Hilltoppers were unable to overcome.

The Hilltoppers’ second-half offensive presence was led by Faye. His 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists were vital in the runs that kept the Hilltoppers in the game. McHenry was silenced in this game. A man who sits among the top of C-USA in scoring was held to only four points in his 23 minutes of play. 

The second half was dominated by Hawkins. On top of draining the game-winning shot, the senior had 17 second-half points and three rebounds in his senior night finale. He was also 4-6 from three. His big second-half performance gave him 27 total on the night.

Team Second Half Statistics: 

WKU: 19-36 FG, 4-11 3FG, 10-15 FT | 21 Rebounds: 11 Defensive, 10 Offensive.

FIU: 14-26 FG, 7-13 3FG, 6-10 FT | 13 Rebounds: 10 Defensive, three Offensive.

With tonight’s loss, the Hilltoppers dropped a third straight game for the first time all season. WKU will have one more chance to make it a 20-win regular season against the Liberty Flames on Saturday.

More to Discover