Tops Defeat FIU 84-71 With Balanced Scoring

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball benefited from a total team effort Saturday, earning its first victory of 2022 with an 84-71 win over FIU at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Five Hilltoppers reached double figures scoring, while the team shot 50% from the field and racked up 18 assists.

“First off, Florida International has a great basketball team,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “Jeremy (Ballard) does a great job with them. Anytime you can have multiple guys who can shoot the basketball like they can shoot it and have a little point guard who can get the ball in the paint and create something, you’re a dangerous team. … So give them some credit. They’ve got a really good team and they’re not easy to defend. I thought our guys bounced back. I thought for the most part we were pretty good for most of the night.”

Fifth-year senior guard Josh Anderson led WKU (9-6 overall, 1-1 Conference USA) off the bench with 16 points and three steals.

Graduate senior guard Camron Justice and redshirt senior forward Luke Frampton each had 15 points, with Frampton knocking down 5 of 6 3-pointers and Justice handing out five assists.

Junior center Jamarion Sharp totaled 14 points, eight rebounds and three blocks on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting. Sophomore guard Dayvion McKnight tallied 13 points, eight assists and four rebounds.

The team was also quick to note the bench contributions of redshirt senior forward Jaylen Butz, who added four points and six boards (four offensive) in 12 minutes.

“Honestly it was really important since he came in getting rebounds and we really needed that this game, considering when I’m on the bench and they have their 7-footer in, is really huge for us,” Sharp said.

The Hilltoppers led 43-38 at halftime, but spurted out to a double-digit advantage early in the second half with an 11-4 run. A free throw by senior forward Jairus Hamilton with 15:01 to go made it 56-44.

WKU made 6 of 9 3-pointers in the second half, and the lead swelled as large as 17 in the final two minutes.

Tevin Brewer paced FIU (10-5, 0-2) with 20 points and nine assists.

The Hilltoppers continue their homestand next week against Rice at 8 p.m. CT Thursday at E.A. Diddle Arena. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.

“I mean, conference is always tough, whoever you play, it does not matter,” Frampton said. “They are always going to give their best shot, no matter who it is. We just have to focus on us. We can’t be worried about who were playing or where we’re playing at. It is us against us and that is how it is for the rest of the season.”