In a game just added last week, the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers’ basketball picked up a “true” road win with their 73-71 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The Hilltopers improve to 6-2 overall for the season as the Crimson Tide’s overall record falls to 4-3. WKU has a record of 9-6 against teams from the “Power 5” Conferences since 2017 and gas won four of their last five games against teams from the SEC.
“When you go on the road and win, you’ve got to have some toughness and some grit and some togetherness about you,” Hilltoppers’ head coach Rick Stansbury said in a release. “That was going to be the difference in that game. At halftime, it was basically a tie game, we were up one. No longer is it going to be a 40-minute game, it’s a 20-minute game. It’s that team that came out of that locker room and imposed their will. Again, it’s not easy to impose your will on the road. It’s not easy. We only had to do it for 20 more minutes… Great, gusty tough effort. Great team effort. Like I said, guys came off that bench and produced.”
It was a big win for the “Big Red” but it wasn’t easy as they had to overcome a late 2nd Half deficit along with foul trouble with senior guards Kenny Cooper and Taveion Hollingsworth playing a combined 24 minutes. The two guards only played a combined seven minutes in the 1st Half but WKU managed a 33-32 lead at halftime.
The Hilltoppers largest lead was five in the 2nd Half, 67-62, until Alabama,who led for less than five minutes throughout the game, went on an 8-0 run. They held a 70-67 lead but four straight free throws from sophomore Jordan Rawls and junior Charles Bassey’s goaltending gave WKU a 73-71 lead in the final seconds.
Bassey finished the game with 27 points and 12 rebounds with his second game winning basket in a row. Rawls, coming off the bench, added 20 points.
“We knew coming here was going to be tough,” Bassey said in a release. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we kept our cool and we just played the game from the first half through the second half and got the win. Coach said, there’s no game this year that’s going to be easy. Every game is going to be tough so we’ve just got to be ready and play.”
“I’m just trying to be aggressive when I come off the bench, really that’s all,” Rawls added. “Get in the lane, carry it for other people, draw fouls, and I think I did that pretty well tonight.”
Senior Herbert Jones led the Crimson Tide with 16 points with graduate student Jordan Bruner adding 14 points and sophomore Jaden Shackelford pouring in 12 points.