Bowling Green, Ky. — A hot-shooting second half and four players in double figures Thursday night helped Western Kentucky end a three-game losing streak with a 75-57 win over ULM at E.A. Diddle Arena. The win improves WKU's record to 14-14 overall and 8-9 in Sun Belt Conference play with three games remaining in the regular season, and ULM drops to 4-19 and 3-14 in the conference with the loss.
WKU shot 60.9 percent as a team in the second half and made six second-half three-pointers to help secure the victory, and four Hilltoppers had at least 12 points in the game led by George Fant and T.J. Price with 15 apiece. Jamal Crook added 13 points and seven assists, and Brandon Harris buried four three-pointers to finish with 12 points, and he also added six rebounds. Fant's output came in 15 minutes of action. Kene Anyigbo played 16 quality minutes off the bench, and all 13 Hilltoppers who dressed for the game saw action.
ULM was led by Amos Olatayo's 18 points, and Millaun Brown had 12 rebounds.
For the second-straight game WKU had at least 18 assists as a team, with 18 Thursday night on 27 made baskets. WKU scored 32 points in the paint, and the Hilltopper reserves contributed 24 points. ULM never led in the game.
WKU made eight three-pointers in the game, and the Hilltoppers have now made at least one three-pointer in 800-straight games, dating back to March 15, 1987. That is the sixth-longest active streak in the nation.
WKU closed the first half on a 9-3 run to take a 34-22 lead into intermission. The Hilltoppers used a 9-1 burst over 1:46 to open the game for the first time, taking a 16-8 lead, and forcing ULM to call a timeout with 9:40 to go in the half.
The Warhawks responded with a 6-0 run of their own to bring the game within six at 25-19, but Harris quickly responded with a three-pointer to end the stretch.
That 9-3 Hilltopper scoring run to end the half gave them the 12-point lead at the break, and WKU finished the half shooting 40.6 percent as a team (13-for-32). WKU outrebounded ULM in the opening 20 minutes, 24-16, and WKU limited the Warhawks to 30.8 percent shooting (8-for-26).
Fant and Price led WKU with nine and eight points, respectively, and Aleksejs Rostov led the Hilltoppers with five rebounds. Jayon James' seven first-half points paced ULM.
A Price three-pointer gave WKU its largest lead of the game at 51-31, and ULM trimmed it to as close as 11 points on a couple of occasions in the final seven minutes. But WKU rattled off seven-straight to quickly bring the lead back up to 18 points at 70-52, helping to erase any doubt of the outcome.
A Crook layup put WKU up by 21 points at 75-54 with 2:03 to play, and the Hilltoppers cruised to the 18-point victory. WKU shot 60.9 percent in the second half (14-for-23) and made six of nine three-pointers en route to the 41-point half. The Hilltoppers finished the game shooting 49.1 percent as a team (27-for-55). ULM ended at 36.4 percent for the game (20-for-55).
WKU outrebounded the Warhawks for the game, 43-28.
WKU has now won 15 of its last 18 home games.
WKU plays its last regular season road game Saturday night at 7:30 at Louisiana-Lafayette. The game will be televised by the Sun Belt Network, airing nationally on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court, where available, and regionally on WKYU-PBS. Saturday's game against the Ragin' Cajuns will also be broadcast on the radio on the Hilltopper IMG Sports Network with Randy Lee and Hal Schmitt on the call.
WKU returns to E.A. Diddle Arena next week for the final two games of the regular season, beginning next Thursday against South Alabama.
Tickets for the 2012-13 WKU basketball season are on sale now and can be purchased online at WKUSports.com or by calling the WKU Ticket Office at 1-800-5-BIG RED or 745-5222 locally.