WKU Hilltopper Basketball fell into an early hole and could never quite dig out of it Sunday, dropping an 89-84 decision at Ohio.
The Hilltoppers (6-3) fell behind by 16 in the first half and allowed the Bobcats (5-4) to shoot 53.8 percent in the second half and net 31 of 35 free throws in the game.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for WKU.
Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth led the Hilltoppers with 19 points, four rebounds and three steals, while senior forward Justin Johnson tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds for his 28th career double-double.
Senior forward Dwight Coleby, senior guard Darius Thompson and freshman guard Jake Ohmer all had 12 points for WKU.
Redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden had seven points but was limited to just 12 minutes after fouling out.
WKU scored the first four points of the game, but Ohio used a 16-2 run to take control, including 11 straight points to turn a one-point Hilltopper advantage into a 10-point deficit.
The Bobcats led by as much as 16 at 40-24 with 1:36 left in the half, but WKU was able to trim the hole to 42-30 by the break.
The Hilltoppers quickly cut Ohio’s lead to six at 42-36 with six points in the first 1:03 of the second half, but the Bobcats answered with a 13-3 run, pushing the lead back to 55-39 with 13:10 remaining.
WKU cut into the lead again in the final four minutes, getting as close as five multiple times. Thompson had three free throws down 87-82 with 7.6 seconds left but missed each attempt.
The Hilltoppers shot 47.1 percent from the field, registered just 10 assists on 31 baskets and made 15 of 24 free throws.
Mike Laster paced Ohio with 23 points.
The Hilltoppers stay on the road for a big test at Wisconsin at 7 p.m. CT Wednesday. WKU has never won a true road game at a Big Ten Conference program.
The Tops are 1-0 this season against the Big Ten, however, with a victory over No. 18 Purdue in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November.
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