BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — With just seven active players, the WKU Hilltopper Basketball
team used a dominant second half Sunday and notched a 78-64 exhibition victory at
Samford to open the season at the Pete Hanna Center in Birmingham, Ala.
The game was labeled the “Pack The Pete For Hurricane Relief” game, with proceeds
being donated to the Red Cross Hurricane Irma Relief Fund for Florida.
The NCAA granted numerous programs waivers to add an exhibition game with the
proceeds going to relief efforts following a series of devastating hurricanes in the
United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Despite having just seven active players in uniform, the Hilltoppers shot 56.6
percent from the field with 19 assists on 23 made baskets. They shot 65.2 percent in
the second half and made 21 of 35 free throws overall.
Freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth led five WKU players in double figures with 19
points. Senior forward Justin Johnson added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and graduate
senior forward Dwight Coleby tallied 10 points (10 of 12 on free throws) and 15
Freshman guard Jake Ohmer had 12 points, four assists and three steals, and graduate
senior guard Darius Thompson flirted with a triple-double with 11 points, 10
assists, seven rebounds and four steals.
The teams traded the lead early before Samford used an 8-0 run to open a 27-18
advantage with 9:36 left in the first half.
But WKU used its own 10-2 run to climb back within one at 29-28.
Ohmer’s steal and layup tied it at 30-30 with 1:37 left, and Hollingsworth’s
3-pointer from the corner gave the Hilltoppers their first lead since the opening
four minutes. They led 33-32 at the half.
Samford pulled back in front 41-40 early in the second half, but the Hilltoppers
went on the deciding 19-4 run, opening a 59-45 lead with 9:30 left on another Ohmer
3. WKU eventually led by as much as 19.
The Hilltoppers had three more steals Sunday (12) than they had in any
regular-season game last season.
Samford was picked to finish second in the Southern Conference and returned all five
starters from a team that finished 20-16 last year under head coach Scott Padgett –
the program’s most victories in 11 years and its first winning season since
The Hilltoppers improved to 56-4 all-time in preseason exhibition games and have won
24 straight preseason tune-ups dating back to a 2002-03 loss to the Harlem
WKU continues exhibition play at home against Campbellsville at 7 p.m. Wednesday at
E.A. Diddle Arena.
How to follow the Hilltoppers: For complete information on WKU Hilltopper
Basketball, follow the team’s social media channels, @WKUBasketball on Twitter,
@WKUBasketball on Instagram, and WKU Basketball on Facebook.