WKU and UALR battled in a Sun Belt Conference classic Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena, and the Trojans earned an 87-83 overtime win in a game that featured 106 combined points in the second half and overtime. The loss drops WKU to 10-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play, and UALR improves to 9-8 and 4-1 with the win.
The second half and overtime alone had six ties and eight lead changes.
WKU was led by Aleksej Rostov's career-high 20 points, and Chris Harrison-Docks followed with 14 points. Brandon Harris added 13 and three assists, and Kevin Kaspar had 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. WKU had just 13 turnovers in the game. UALR was led by Will Neighbour's 32 points on 11-of-14 shooting, and three others were in double figures for UALR, who has won three-straight games over WKU.
UALR exploded to a 10-2 lead to start the game, but WKU settled in after that and made it a two possession game for much of the rest of the half. The Hilltoppers took a 25-24 lead after a Payton Hulsey layup, which was WKU's first lead in the last 53:57 of game action.
After WKU took the 25-24 lead, the Trojans responded with eight-straight points to open up a 32-25 lead with 2:36 to play in the half. WKU poured in the next five points, coming on a free throw and layup by Trency Jackson and a jumper by Harrison-Docks, to make the score 32-31 with 30 seconds left. UALR hit a free throw with three ticks left to bring the game to its halftime score of 33-31 in favor of the Trojans.
Eight different Hilltoppers scored in the first 20 minutes, paced by Rostov's seven points and six by Harris. James White of UALR led all scorers with 10 points, and he also had five first-half rebounds.
WKU opened up its largest lead of the game at 64-56 with 5:16 to play in regulation, but UALR went on a 7-0 run to come within one at 64-63. The run was snapped by a Kaspar triple with 2:56 to play, and the two teams headed into the final three minutes with WKU on top 67-63.
WKU still led by four with just 29 seconds left, 70-66, before UALR got a three-pointer from Josh Hagins with 22 ticks left. After Harris split two free throws to give WKU at 71-69 lead, Hagins hit a jumper with eight seconds left to tie the game at 71. After a timeout, WKU came down and missed two three-pointers, both of which were blocked by Hagins, to send the game into overtime.
It was WKU's first overtime game since the 2012-13 season opener at Southern Miss.
Rostov started the overtime period on fire, nailing back-to-back three-pointers to put WKU up 77-71 just 1:27 into the extra period. UALR had the next six, however, to tie the game for the seventh time, this time at 77-all with 1:44 left. Hagins again came up clutch after two George Fant free throws with a triple of his own to give UALR an 80-79 advantage with 55 seconds left.
Harrison-Docks and Neighbour traded buckets, and then Neighbour hit two free throws, to give UALR an 84-81 lead with seven seconds showing on the clock. WKU inbounded and went the length of the floor before the Trojans fouled Harrison-Docks, who made two free throws with four seconds remaining. Hagins however made three free throws in the last seconds to seal the 87-83 Trojan win, after WKU turned it over and was forced to foul.
UALR ended the game shooting 58.2 percent from the floor (32-for-55), and WKU finished at 46.7 percent (28-for-60) and went 13-for-29 from distance (.448).
WKU wraps up its three-game homestand on Saturday night at 7:00 (CT) against Arkansas State. Saturday's game will be televised by the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court and regionally on WKU PBS and WBNA. It will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network, airing locally in Bowling Green on WKLX-FM Sam 100.7, with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
It is the 31st Annual BB&T Classic on Saturday, and WKU will also recognize members of WKU's 1963-64 team, which was the first team to play in E.A. Diddle Arena upon its opening a half-century ago. In addition, the Party One Zone for Kids will be open in the upper concourse, as it will be every Saturday home game throughout the season. All members of WKU's Big Red's Rascals kids club can receive a complimentary reserved ticket to the game.
Single-game tickets for the 2013-14 season and various multiple-game packages are on sale now. Fans interested in purchasing single-game tickets or multiple-game packages can call the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally, or order online at WKUSports.com.