Trojans topped by WKU at home
The Trojan men’s basketball team held the Sun Belt Conference’s preseason player of the year and the Western Kentucky Hilltopper’s leading scorer, Sergio Kerusch, to three points, but were nipped 61-59 Thursday, Feb. 17, in front of 3,036 at the Jack Stephens Center.
Sophomore WKU (13-13, 7-6 SBC) guard Jamal Crook grabbed a loose ball after an attempted shot by senior forward Stephfonn Pettigrew, and laid it in with 0.7 seconds left for the two-point margin of victory. Before the loose ball, Trojan senior Solomon Bozeman tied the score 59-59 with an offensive rebound and layup with :28 left in the game.
“First thing, you have to give Western Kentucky credit,” UALR coach Steve Shields said. “There’s a reason in the preseason poll they got 11 first-place votes and [Florida Atlantic] got one. Good team, well coached.”
FAU is currently first in the SBC East division and WKU is third behind Middle Tennessee. UALR (14-13, 6-6) is currently fourth and fell two and a half games behind Denver for the top spot in the West division and four games left in the season.
Down by nine at the half, Trojan senior guard Matt Mouzy hit a 3-pointer to begin a 9-3 run to start the second half. The Hilltoppers responded with a 10-3 run that ended at the 11:59 mark on two Pettigrew free-throws. Down by 10, the Trojans went on another 9-3 run capped by a put in by Bozeman with 8:00 remaining. Bozeman scored 11 points on 3-10 shooting and air-balled two 3-point shots from the corner.
UALR shot 40 percent from the field and 55 percent from the free-throw line for the game, missing 10 free-throw attempts in the second half.
“So often you think about the last play in this game, but if we’re better from the foul line, 10 misses, it doesn’t come down to that,” Shields said.
Mouzy led the Trojans with 17 points, hitting 5-10 from the 3-point line, but was not impressed by his team’s grit.
“At the end of the game, it came down to effort and toughness,” Mouzy said. “I don’t think we showed that to the best of our ability. I think we are a very tough team, but we didn’t act like it there at the end.”
Pettigrew led Western Kentucky with 18 points and 10 rebounds. UALR junior D’Andre Williams had 11 points, five rebounds and three assists in the loss.