Following a blowout victory over Campbellsville to open the season, Western Kentucky made a short trip south to Nashville, Tenn., to face a Belmont team that started its campaign with a win at Marquette and a close loss at Arizona State. In short, the Hilltoppers second game of the season was expected to provide a better barometer of what type of team the rebuilt Hilltoppers would have in 2015-16.
While the end result, a 90-85 loss, wasn't the exact result that WKU head coach Ray Harper would prefer, it did provide him with a lot insight on his squad.
"I found out a lot about this team tonight," he said.
The Hilltoppers were forced to work through multiple players with foul trouble, with Justin Johnson, Ben Lawson and Nigel Snipes all fouling while playing just an average of 12 minutes. Chris Harrison-Docks came off the bench to lead WKU with 19 points on 6 of 10 shooting. Fredrick Edmond scored 16 points and Aaron Cosby added 15 points in the loss.
Up next is a noon tipoff on Saturday against Stony Brook at E.A Diddle Arena.
Early Hilltopper Trends:
Team has Fight
Despite foul trouble hampering the game plan, the Hilltoppers proved to have the drive and ability to remain focused in a challenging moment. Trailing by 11 midway through the second half, a moment when a visiting team plauged by the official whistles may have folded, the Hilltoppers instead clamped down on defense, forcing Belmont to miss 13 consecutive shot attempts, to fuel a run that tied the score at 74-74 with four minutes to play.
"We fought, we showed a lot of heart," said Harper. "At times we rushed some things, which is typical of a young basketball team, or a new team, especially on the road.
"I thought we did a great job of chipping away and getting back in the game to give ourselves a chance to win."
Edmond Meeting Expectations
A two-time junior college All-American at College of Southern Idaho, where he led his team in scoring and rebounding in both seasons, Fredrick Edmond arrived on The Hill with the expecation of becoming an immediate contributor for the Hilltoppers.
Following a 20-point, six rebound performance in the season-opener, Edmond posted his first career double-double, registering 16 points and 10 rebounds at Belmont.
Johnson Stepping Up
Following a rookie season that saw him average 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds in 31 games, forward Justin Johnson's role as a sophomore calls for even more from the product of Hazard, Ky., and he's delivering.
Despite playing just 12 minutes due to foul trouble, he was a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor, finishing with nine points and six rebounds against Belmont. Through two games, Johnson is averaging 13.5 points on 12-of-14 shooting (.857). Of his team-high 21 rebounds, 13 have come on the offensive glass.
Ben Lawson played just eight minutes before fouling out against Belmont, but still managed to block three shots against the Bruins. The 7-foot-1 forward Lawson has now swatted three shots in four-straight games and has recorded at least one block in seven-straight contests.