The word “well” is a deep subject…and it most definitely goes accordingly with the Tops. A game that looked like it was heading in WKU’s direction would turn south in the second half of play.
In the final ten minutes, the Hilltoppers 10 point lead would be erased and the Mavericks would hold their first lead of the game with 3:48 to go. After losing the lead just one more time in the final minutes, UTA would hold out and finish the game with a seven point victory.
So what happened? How did UTA mount their comeback, and how did the Hilltoppers give up a 17 point lead? Let’s find out.
It was senior night in Arlington Texas…and man…did their seniors show up! Two of the Maverick seniors combined for 57 of UTA’s 80 points. One of those being guard Reger Dowell…and he did more than just show up…he dominated the game as he lead all scorers with 37 points. His second hand man forward Brandon Edwards added 19 of his own… making it a night that both Dowell and Edwards will remember forever.
As a team the Mavs shot almost 46% and 30% from behind the 3 point arc. The Mavericks proved to just have a better second half… as they also shot 50% from the floor in just that half…while also nailing 19 of 26 from the FT line. When it is all said and done…you just have to think that UT-Arlington wanted it more…and with that they deserved the win.
As for WKU…just shake my head. After having statistically a great first half (shooting 8-16 from behind the 3 point line; and 47% from the floor in general), the Hilltoppers just bottomed out in the second. Statistically the game as a whole was normal (which here of late has been bad), but that wasn’t the only cause of their loss. WKU just wasn’t able to get things together on defense, which led to them not being able to get things together on offense. They allowed Reger Dowell who was already having a good game…put up 22 points in the second half alone. As well as allowing Brandon Edwards put his own 14 points up in the second half. WKU was unable to stop this dynamic duo which was one of the main causes of their defeat.
Another thing I think led to the Tops demise is their free throws. Throughout this season if you have kept up with my articles, you have noticed how much I preach on getting to the free throw line and capitalizing on the easy shots while the clock is stopped. The reoccurring theme this season is poor shooting from that line…and other nights shooting like the feat is indescribably easy. Tonight…you can guess which of the two themes they went according to. WKU went 15 of 27 from the line on the night…that being 56%. All the Tops had to do was make 8 more…23 of 27…85% and WKU would have won the game. You may say, “Marcus…that means the Tops can only miss 4 free throws…that is tough to do.” Well I say this team has already accomplished that task this season and even exceeded it against ULL when they went 24 of 27 (89%). All I’m saying is free throws count…and could have been the difference maker for WKU tonight…just as it was against the Ragin Cajuns.
Overall the Hilltoppers have a lot of work to do…obviously. This game should be marked in the win column for WKU…but it is in the past now and Coach Harper and Co. will have to reiterate that to the team because they have a monstrosity of a challenge this upcoming week. Since UTA was a challenge…I am anxious to see if the Tops can hold their own as they face what I think is the two toughest teams in the SBC…Louisiana Lafayette and Georgia State. Topper nation…let us all hope that the 4 wins in 4 days team shows up within the next week. Until Monday for the Roundball Roundup…have a great rest of the weekend.