Well it was the game that WKU needed, and things looked good from the get-go.
Despite having to wait an entire week for their next match up, the Hilltoppers looked solid and Louisiana-Monroe looked stunned from tip-off to the final buzzer. Let’s get going and fill you in on what when down in Diddle.
The Tops got off strong and wouldn’t relent early as they ran off to an 18-1 lead over the Warhawks. From then on, ULM would make an effort to get back into the ball game but would never be successful. Despite the final score only showing ULM losing by 9, as far as the actual gameplay itself, the Warhawks weren’t even close.
Louisiana-Monroe didn’t have a bad game, by any means; the Tops were just better.
Tylor Ongwae had the game I expected him to have as he posted 19 points along with 5 boards. Jayon James also had a good performance as he went for 13 points and 7 rebounds. As a team, the Warhawks shot 43% from field goal range and 38% from behind the arc. The stat line doesn’t completely tell their story tonight though. ULM just didn’t have much for the Tops – WKU just had a physicality factor that enabled them to stay ahead of the Warhawks for the entirety of the game.
Now for WKU. When I saw the starting line-ups for the Tops, I was stunned. T.J. Price wasn’t in the line-up - Daouda Soumaoro was. The Tops had a good game, and I loved the intensity they brought out early. After a long week, I was unsure how they squad would react, especially after a game like South Al. But the Tops performed well, shooting 40% from the floor, and 30% from behind the arc. They also only gave up 6 turnovers, which is astounding compared to the numbers we have seen from them this season. But, they have done better in the past couple of games, as they only had 5 against the Jaguars.
One thing I was disappointed in was the shooting from the charity stripe. The Tops shot 17 of 32 with a percentage of 53%. The free throw line has been a sketchy element to WKU basketball season, where one game we will see a great performance from them, then the next they will be flat out horrible. That will be a huge factor once we get into tournament play, and that stat alone could mean the difference between winning and losing. (Like it was a week ago to South Alabama.)
Some key performers for the Tops were Trency Jackson and Chris Harrison-Docks. Jackson made an impact from the beginning and ended up on the night with 25 points, and was 3-8 from behind the 3-point arc. CHD put up 15 of his own as he also went 3 of 8 from three. These two guys continue to remind us how much more dynamic they have made this Hilltopper squad since there debut early December.
It was a good and much needed win tonight and now all we can do is look ahead and ask will they keep this amount of momentum up. For Wave the Red Towel, we will see you in a few days as Hilltopper action makes its way to the big state of Texas. Until then, Stand Up and Cheer!