WKU basketball drops fourth in five games

Arkansas-Little Rock shot 60.9 percent in the second half en route to a 59-54 win over Western Kentucky.

Bowling Green, Ky. — WKU endured field goal droughts of a combined 15-plus minutes at the ends of both halves Saturday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena, and UALR shot 60.9 percent in the second half en route to a 59-54 win over the Hilltoppers. The loss is WKU's fourth in the last five games and drops the Hilltoppers' record to 11-9 overall and 5-4 in Sun Belt Conference play this season. UALR kept its lead in the conference's west division and moves to 12-9 overall and 6-4 in league games with the victory.

A season-high 5,221 fans were on hand at E.A. Diddle Arena on a night in which WKU's 1992-93 Sweet 16 team was honored in celebration of its 20th anniversary.

Brandon Harris led WKU with 22 points, including a Hilltopper season high six three-pointers, and he and O'karo Akamune led the Hilltoppers with eight rebounds apiece. George Fant contributed 13 points and seven rebounds, and UALR was led by 14 points and six assists from Josh Hagins.

Harris led WKU in rebounding for the sixth time in the last eight games, and he is now averaging 13.6 points per game in the last five contests. Caden Dickerson played 19 minutes off the bench in the game after missing the last 12 games after separating his right shoulder at ULM on November 29.

The Hilltoppers shot 32.7 percent from the field in the game (16-for-49), and UALR used its hot second half to finish at 46.2 percent for the game (24-for-52). WKU outrebounded UALR in the game, 37-31, and had 13 offensive rebounds. The Trojans scored 30 points in the paint, and the Hilltopper bench had five points in the game.

WKU led 26-25 at halftime after shooting 38.1 percent as a team (8-for-21) and outrebounding UALR 22-11 in the opening 20 minutes. UALR went 10-for-29 from the field (.345) and forced 10 WKU turnovers.

The Hilltoppers went on a 10-2 run over 5:08 to take a 19-12, but UALR trimmed the lead to the one-point mark at halftime after a pair of Will Neighbour free throws. WKU went the final 8:09 of the half without a field goal.

Harris led WKU with eight points and five rebounds in the first half, and T.J. Price and Teeng Akol each added five. Neighbour led UALR with seven points in the first 20 minutes.

The second half featured three ties and three lead changes, and UALR used six-straight points over 1:35 to take a 43-38 advantage, its largest of the game. The Trojans extended the lead to as large as eight points down the stretch, as WKU went 7:27 without a field goal near the end of the game.

UALR finished by making its final four shots of the game and three free throws in the final 3:08 to seal the victory, its first in its last four tries in Bowling Green dating back to the 2004-05 season.

With a three-game homestand in the books, WKU hits the road for two games next week beginning Thursday at 7:05 PM at South Alabama. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, regionally on WKYU-PBS and in Louisville on WBNA. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.

WKU returns home on Thursday, January 31 for a 7:00 contest against Troy.

Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.

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