WKU Hilltopper Basketball mounted a furious comeback Friday after falling into an early 22-point hole, but ultimately couldn’t get over the hump in an 85-80 loss to Missouri State in the season opener at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Hilltoppers (0-1) fell behind 26-4 at the 12:03 mark of the first half, but they trimmed that to an 11-point deficit by halftime and pulled within 51-50 with 14:02 remaining.
WKU was still within one possession of Missouri State (1-0) – the preseason favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference – with 15 seconds left when redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden hit a 3-pointer to make it 82-80.
But the Bears scored the final three points of the game to hold on for the win in front of 5,241 fans – the largest crowd to watch a Hilltopper game since a matchup against Middle Tennessee on Jan. 30, 2016.
Bearden led WKU with 24 points in his first outing as a WKU player, while senior guard Darius Thompson added 19 points. Senior forward Justin Johnson tallied 11 points and 15 rebounds for his 25th career double-double.
Freshman forward Marek Nelson and senior forward Dwight Coleby each had eight points for WKU, which capitalized at the free-throw line by netting 28 of 36 from the charity stripe.
J.T. Miller scored 14 points to lead five Missouri State players in double figures. MVC Preaseason Player of the Year Alize Johnson finished with 13 points and eight rebounds. The Bears shot 55.7 percent from the field and outscored WKU 44-26 in the paint.
WKU had won 12 of its previous 13 home openers and its last three season openers overall. The defeat broke a streak of 14 straight nonconference home wins by the Hilltoppers dating back to a loss to fourth-ranked Louisville on Dec. 20, 2014.
WKU continues a stretch of three straight home games to start the regular season when it hosts Kentucky Wesleyan at 7 p.m. Wednesday at E.A. Diddle Arena.
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WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations
WKU Hilltoppers vs. Missouri State
Nov. 10, 2017
E.A. Diddle Arena | Bowling Green, Ky.
FINAL SCORE: Missouri State 85, WKU 80
RECORDS AND NOTABLES
• WKU is 0-1 overall.
• Missouri State is 1-0 overall.
• Missouri State leads WKU in the series 1-0.
• Stansbury is 0-1 vs. the Bears
• Attendance was announced at 5,241, the largest crowd in E.A. Diddle Arena since WKU hosted Middle
Tennessee on Jan. 30, 2016.
• UP NEXT: WKU will stay at home to face in-state competitor Kentucky Wesleyan on Wednesday,
November 15 at 7 p.m. CT in E.A. Diddle Arena. The game will be televised on Fox College Sports.
• WKU used the starting lineup of Taveion Hollingsworth, Mark Nelson, Darius Thompson, Dwight
Coleby, and Justin Johnson. It was the same lineup they used in all three exhibition games.
• KEY FIRST HALF RUN: Missouri State pulled ahead quickly with a 14-0 run over 4:35 minutes, extending
its lead to 26-4. The streak was snapped by a pair of free throws from Marek Nelson. WKU went more
than eight minutes without scoring a field goal, relying on eight free throws for points, before Lamonte
Bearden scored a layup and free throw to take the score to 32-14.
o Missouri State’s largest lead was 22 points with 12:03 left in the half. The Hilltoppers got within
11 points of the Bears at halftime with a score of 45-34.
• KEY SECOND HALF RUN: WKU began the half with a 7-0 run from 18:31 to 16:12, bringing the score to
47-44. WKU closed the gap to one point, but Missouri State responded with a 9-2 run, ending at 12:03.
Back-to-back Dwight Coleby dunks, separated by a field goal from the Bears, kept Hilltoppers in the
game, taking a timeout with 1:09 left in the game and a score of 77-74.
o Missouri State had five turnovers in the opening six minutes of the half
• WKU shot 22 of 56 (39.3 percent) from the field, 8 of 21 (38.1 percent) from 3-point range and 28 of 36
(77.8 percent) from the free-throw line.
• The Hilltoppers outscored the Bears in the second half 46-40.
• WKU outscored Missouri State in second chance points 21-17.
• WKU has made a 3-pointer in 939 straight games dating back to March 15, 1987.
• The redshirt junior led the Hilltoppers with 24 points and five rebounds. In his Hilltopper debut,
Bearden was 9-of-10 from the free throw line and 3-of-3 from the 3-point line.
• The senior had 11 points and 15 rebounds, notching his 25th career double-double.
o Johnson is now 35th on WKU’s all-time scoring record with 1,131 points.
o He was one rebound shy of his career record of 16.
• The graduate senior tallied 19 points and pulled down three rebounds in his WKU debut.
• The freshman went 8-of-10 from the free throw line in his Hilltopper debut to add to the team’s 28
made free throws on the night.