WKU Hilltopper Basketball led LA Tech for more than 39 minutes Thursday night, then had to hold on for dear life in a 69-68 victory to open Conference USA play at E.A. Diddle Arena.
After not leading since the opening basket of the game, LA Tech (9-5, 0-1 C-USA) pulled back in front 68-67 with 18 seconds left on a bucket by Daquan Bracey.
WKU redshirt junior guard Lamonte Bearden got fouled on the next possession, missed both free throws, got his own rebound and was fouled again, and then made the next two to put the Hilltoppers (9-5, 1-0) in front 69-68.
On the ensuing possession, senior forward Dwight Coleby came up with a big block to ice the victory. Coleby finished with 16 points, a career-high 15 rebounds and three blocks.
Senior forward Justin Johnson also had 16 points and seven rebounds, and freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth added 15 points, a career-high seven rebounds and three assists.
Senior guard Darius Thompson chipped in 11 points, five assists and four rebounds. Bearden scored five points and tied his season high with six assists.
WKU started the game with an 11-2 run and led by as much as 14 in the first half, pushing the advantage to 21-7 at the 11:34 mark with two free throws from Hollingsworth.
LA Tech trimmed its deficit to six late in the half, but Hollingsworth answered with a 3-pointer, and WKU pushed the lead back to 38-29 at the break.
WKU shot 52.2 percent from the field in the first half and assisted on its first 10 made field goals.
LA Tech got within one possession midway through the second half with an 8-0 run, then scored six straight points with under two minutes left to reclaim the lead before Bearden’s winning free throws.
Jacobi Boykins paced LA Tech with 14 points.
The Hilltoppers stay at home to host Southern Miss at 2 p.m. CT Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena.
How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper Basketball, follow the team’s social media channels, @WKUBasketball on Twitter, @WKUBasketball on Instagram, and WKU Basketball on Facebook.
WKU Athletic Communications/Media Relations