WKU Men’s Basketball: Hollingsworth eclipses 1,000 points, Tops edge Tennessee Tech 76-64

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU Hilltopper Basketball opened the 2019-20 campaign with a home victory, pushing past Tennessee Tech 76-64 on Tuesday at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Redshirt junior forward Carson Williams and sophomore center Charles Bassey each had 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks to lead the Hilltoppers, who improved to 82-19 all-time in home openers.

WKU (1-0) has won 14 of its last 16 home openers and is 69-32 all-time in season openers.

“They’re a hard basketball team to defend,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “They play those four guards who can dribble it, pass it and shoot it – not easy to defend. I never thought we got into a flow consistently tonight offensively. … You can’t get relaxed with the score on a team that can shoot the ball, always a dangerous team.”

The Hilltoppers built a 16-3 lead to start the game with a 14-1 run, but Tennessee Tech (0-1) answered with a 7-0 burst to whittle away and get back within six at 18-12 at the 9:00 mark.

WKU held the Golden Eagles without a field goal for the last nearly five minutes of the first half and ended the frame on a 9-2 run, capped with a four-point play from graduate senior guard Camron Justice with 1:06 left that gave the Tops a 36-23 halftime advantage.

Justice and Williams were a strong duo to start the second half, combining for 12 points in the first four minutes of the period to make it 51-30 with 16:10 remaining.

But Tennessee Tech caught fire from long range and made 6 of 12 3-pointers in the second half.

The last of those trimmed WKU’s lead to 70-61 with 2:36 left, but Bassey answered with a free throw and a 3-pointer to ice the win.

Justice scored 15 points, while junior guard Taveion Hollingsworth added 11 points, three assists and three rebounds.

“All summer we had guys who could score it at all five positions, plus guys coming off the bench,” Justice said. “We definitely know it’s going to be a balanced attack.”

With his first two baskets, Hollingsworth became the 50th player in program history to score 1,000 career points as a Hilltopper.

“It means a lot right now,” Hollingsworth said of the benchmark. “To be up there with the top like Courtney Lee and all them, it feels pretty good. I’m trying to do bigger things.”

WKU shot 43.8 percent for the game, including 60 percent in the second half.

Keishawn Davidson paced Tennessee Tech with 18 points and six assists.

The Hilltoppers stay at home to host Austin Peay at 3 p.m. CT Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena.