WKU Men’s Basketball: Tops drop road game at Missouri St. 84-78

Hilltoppers fall to 4-4 overall, fail to pick up first true road win of the season

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. WKU Hilltopper Basketball allowed Missouri State to shoot 75 percent in the second half Wednesday, falling 84-78 in a road defeat.

The Bears (4-5) netted 21 of 28 shot attempts in the second half and held off a late comeback attempt by the Hilltoppers (4-4).

“We couldn’t get any stops,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “That’s where it starts at. … I know they scored 13 of their first 15 possessions out of the locker room. That just can’t happen. It didn’t matter what we were in. I didn’t think we had any control defensively in that game until late when we went small.”

WKU led by as much as nine in the first half and held a 29-28 advantage at the break, which included rough offensive showings for both teams.

But Missouri State exploded out of the locker room, scoring the first six points and building a double-digit lead while shooting better than 80 percent from the field for much of the half.

WKU began to chip away at the lead with less than five minutes to play, getting as close as three at 77-74 with 1:20 left after a runner in the lane by sophomore guard Josh Anderson.

But the Bears didn’t blink, answering with a 3-pointer from guard Jarred Dixon as the shot clock expired that proved to be the dagger.

“We’ve got to lock in on defense,” WKU sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth said. “That’s all mental. A lot of shots came at the end of the shot clock. We kind of got sluggish at the end. You can’t play good defense at the start and let them get something easy or even let them take a tough shot. We have to lock up the entire possession.”

Hollingsworth led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Freshman center Charles Bassey had his fourth double-double of the year with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Anderson added 12 points, and graduate senior forward Desean Murray chipped in 10 points, five rebounds and three assists. Freshman guard Dalano Banton was 3-for-3 from the floor for eight points in just nine minutes.

WKU shot 50.9 percent for the game, including 61.3 percent in the second half, while Missouri State shot 55 percent overall.

Tulio Da Silva paced the Bears with 18 points and six rebounds.

The Hilltoppers finish their road swing at Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark. The game will air on SEC Network.

“It hurts,” Banton said. “Losing on the road should hurt. We’ve got to come out and play harder on defense and play as a team. That’s what (Coach) preaches most – grit and toughness on the road.”