WKU Men’s Basketball: Hilltoppers unable to hold onto lead, lose to Louisiana Tech 62-50

RUSTON, La. WKU Hilltopper Basketball once again built a halftime lead on the road Saturday, but couldn’t hold on for a 62-50 loss at Louisiana Tech.

The Hilltoppers (11-10, 4-4 Conference USA) were denied their fourth straight win as Louisiana Tech (15-7, 5-4) improved to 12-0 at home this season.

The game was the last of five outings in 10 days for WKU.

“That seven points (WKU’s 28-21 halftime lead) left in a hurry,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “I think it was three minutes. From there on, we gave them confidence and gave the building some energy. We just didn’t play with the same confidence we played with in the first 20 minutes.”

WKU held Louisiana Tech to 26.7 percent shooting in the first half and didn’t allow the Bulldogs to score for the final 4:34 before halftime.

The Hilltoppers scored the final seven points of the half to open a 28-21 advantage at the break.

But Louisiana Tech went on a 19-2 run to start the second half, and the Bulldogs’ 15 straight at one point made it 40-30 in their favor with 13:42 to play.

“When you get a lot of momentum, the rim just gets bigger,” sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth said. “That’s just what it looked like.”

WKU still trailed by 10 at 46-36 when the Hilltoppers went on an 11-3 run to get back within two at 49-47 on a basket by Hollingsworth at the 7:31 mark.

Louisiana Tech star guard DaQuan Bracey answered with one of his several big buckets, and WKU couldn’t get over the hump.

Bracey finished the game with a game-high 17 points after going scoreless in the first half.

Freshman center Charles Bassey led WKU with 16 points and eight rebounds, making 8 of 8 free throws. Redshirt junior guard/forward Jared Savage added 11 points.

Freshman forward Tolu Smith turned in one of his best efforts of the season off the bench, tallying five points, a career-high nine rebounds and two blocks in 18 minutes.

“Staying focused and playing for 40 minutes – not 20 minutes,” Smith said. “We have to stay focused through all the fans and everything else. We just have to play our game.”