BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — For the second time in four days, Marshall University’s men’s basketball team is wondering what could have been.
After blowing a 19-point lead on Wednesday, Marshall looked to be the comeback kids on Saturday, but fell just short in its attempt during a 91-84 loss to Western Kentucky at E.A. Diddle Arena.
During the comeback attempt, Marshall cut the lead to as little as three points, but could never get the stop that allowed the team a chance to get over the hump.
The game looked like a Marshall game of old with up-and-down play and a high pace being the norm.
Ultimately, that pace played favorably for the Hilltoppers, who jumped out to as big as a 14-point lead and never relinquished it.
Six players finished in double-figures for the Hilltopper, led by 18 points from Taveion Hollingsworth.
Western Kentucky took a 56-42 lead on a jumper by Josh Anderson with 17:53 left, but Marshall began to chip away at the lead as Goran Miladinovic got going a bit inside.
The momentum swing continued for the Herd and Marshall got back within 74-71 with 5:57 left on an offensive rebound and putback by Darius George, but each time the Thundering Herd drew close, Western Kentucky had an answer. In addition to Hollingsworth, Western Kentucky (14-6, 7-1 C-USA) got 16 points from Jared Savage, 15 from Jordan Rawls, 14 each from Josh Anderson and Carson Williams and 11 off the bench from Camron Justice in the win.
Marshall (9-12, 3-5 C-USA) got 16 points from Taevion Kinsey, who also had six turnovers for the second-straight game, while Marko Sarenac, Andy Taylor and Jarrod West added 15 each.
West also had 11 assists and six rebounds in a complete effort while the 15 points for Sarenac was a career-high.
Marshall came into the game looking to establish center Iran Bennett down low, but foul trouble made Bennett a virtual non-factor. He finished with two points in just 11 minutes after picking up a pair of fouls early in each half.
Western Kentucky used Bennett’s absence to force Marshall into a smaller lineup at times, and the game resembled such with the Hilltoppers taking a 50-40 lead into the locker room.
Marshall took a 29-28 lead on a 3-pointer by Jeremy Dillon, but the Hilltoppers used a 9-0 run late in the half to forge the double-digit advantage at the break.
The game was the start of a three-game road swing for the Herd, who heads to Florida for a pair this week.
Marshall will take on FIU at 7 p.m. on Thursday before traveling to Florida Atlantic for a 4 p.m. matchup on Saturday.