BOWLING GREEN — Dontaie Allen scored 22 points and Western Kentucky limited UTSA to 27% shooting in the second half as the Hilltoppers rallied past the Roadrunners 81-74 in a Conference USA basketball game on Thursday night in E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU (12-11, 4-8 C-USA) snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory, while last-place UTSA (7-17, 1-12) dropped its eighth consecutive game.
“I’m proud of our team tonight, not only because we won, but because of how we won,” said Western head coach Rick Stansbury, coaching in Diddle Arena for the first time since Dec. 10 against Wright State. “Our guys deserve a lot of credit. It took everybody contributing, and we had guys come off that bench with the right attitude.
“Dontaie, making his first start, played really well. We all know what he’s capable of in terms of shooting that basketball, but where I was really proud of him was in his rebounding and his defensive work. He stepped in there and played 38 minutes and really got the job done for us.”
Trailing by one at intermission, the Hilltoppers began to assert themselves in the early stages of the second half.
Allen scored five points in 7-2 burst that pushed WKU in front 54-49 with just under 13 minutes to play.
UTSA, however, would not go quietly.
The Roadrunners went on a 9-1 run midway through the second half, taking a 64-62 lead following a pair of free throws by 6-11 center Jacob Germany with 7:29 to play.
But Western answered in kind, getting big contributions from Allen, Emmanuel Akot and Khristian Lander in 16-6 spurt that provided the Hilltoppers a 78-70 advantage inside the final minute.
UTSA led for almost the entire first half.
The Roadrunners broke from the gate with 12-4 run and stretched their lead to 19-10 on a 3-pointer by Isaiah Adoo-Ankrah at 13:49.
Western got 3-pointers from Allen and Lander in an 8-2 spurt to draw within 21-18, but UTSA scored nine of the next 11 points — shooting in front 30-20 on a driving layup by DJ Richards at 7:40.
The Roadrunners still led by 10 following a 3-pointer by Christian Tucker at 6:31, but the Hilltoppers went on a 16-7 run over the final 5:50 to pull within 40-39 at the break.
Allen, a transfer from Kentucky, finished 6-of-10 from distance, adding seven rebounds and three assists. WKU also got 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Akot, with Jairus Hamilton scoring 14 points, and 7-foot-5 center Jamarion Sharp blocking six shots, despite being saddled with second-half foul trouble.
“I’m glad to help our team any way I can,” said Allen, a 6-6 junior guard. “We came in here on a losing streak and I just wanted to do everything I could do to contribute to the cause.
“We faced some adversity in this one, but I thought we did a good job of staying together and sticking with the game plan — that paid off for us at the end.”
Junior point guard Dayvion McKnight, the Hilltoppers’ leading scorer, left the game with a foot injury early in the second half and did not return. WKU senior guard Jordan Rawls did not dress for the contest due to a violation of team rules, according to Stansbury.
Western shot 40% for the game, including 39% from 3-point range (10-of-26), and made 21-of-30 free throws (70%). The Tops dished 15 assists and turned the ball over only four times.
Pacing the Roadrunners was Germany, who climbed off the bench to produce 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Richards scored 17 points and Christian Tucker added 11.
UTSA shot only 34% for the game, and was just 5-of-22 from long range (23%). The Roadrunners stayed in the game by making 25-of-32 foul shots (78%) and winning the rebounding battle, 48-41.
Western returns to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday in Diddle Arena playing host to UTEP — a game that will feature the jersey retirement of legendary guard Dwight Smith, a Hilltopper star from 1963-67 and the first African-American signee in program history.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.