HILLTOPPERS GET IT DONE/Sharp’s presence, balanced scoring send WKU to 68-50 victory over Greyhounds


Western Kentucky University’s 7-foot-6 senior center, Jamarion Sharp, has become the Hilltoppers’ great equalizer at the basket.

Dayvion McKnight and fellow WKU guard Luke Frampton can take chances, on the perimeter, what with Sharp waiting underneath.

The Hilltoppers remained unbeaten in three games on Tuesday night, knocking off the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds 68-50 before a crowd of 3,028 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Indianapolis dropped to 2-1 with the defeat.

Sharp had eight of the Toppers’ 13 blocked shots, and he added a team-high 11 rebounds, as WKU pulled away from Indianapolis in the first half while maintaining a double-digit lead in the final 20 minutes.

“Jamarion did what he does best,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said. “He doesn’t have to score to change the game out there.”

Stansbury is still looking for his first trip to the NCAA Tournament with the Hilltoppers, but he’s assembled a talented, two-deep roster with plenty of potential.

Sometimes, Stansbury will substitute five players at a time, like a change of lines in a hockey game, and that depth should serve Western well as roles are defined over the next six weeks of non-conference play.

“That second bunch came in and brought some good energy again,” Stansbury said.

That second bunch.

Has a pretty nice ring to it.

That second bunch includes Senegal’s Fallou Diagne, a 6-foot-11 sophomore center, along with 6-7 forward Tyrone Marshall and guards Jordan Rawls, Khristian Lander and Dontaie Allen.

“Playing 10 guys, I think that’ll wear down some opposing teams,” WKU junior guard Dayvion McKnight said. “We’ll always try to take the easy basket, keep attacking, and try to get to the free-throw line.”

Stansbury pointed out that the Hilltoppers took just six free throws against the Greyhounds, who went to the line just three times themselves.

“We didn’t get to the free-throw line very well,” Stansbury said. “That really stands out. They got way too many second chances (off offensive rebounds). But we held them to 28 percent shooting in the second half, so that gave us a little edge.”

WKU outscored the Greyhounds 6-0 over the final five minutes of the game.

Sharp is a bit of a defensive specialist, but he can be effective on the offensive boards. McKnight is likely to emerge as the offensive catalyst, and he scored 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting on Tuesday night.

Sharp said he had to adjust to Indianapolis center David Ejah, who hit 3 of 6 shots from 3-point range and finished with 11 points.

“Once we did that,” Sharp said, “everything started falling into place.”

McKnight was effective running the Hilltoppers’ fast break, and teammate Jairus Hamilton scored 13 points to join the WKU 1,000-point club, while hitting 5 of 6 shots from the field.

The Hilltoppers set a school record with 13 blocked shots in the game — eight for Sharp, two for Fallou Diagne and one each for Dayvion McKnight, Dontaie Allen and Tyrone Marshall. WKU had just nine turnovers over the course of the game, while converting the Greyhounds’ 18 turnovers into 21 points themselves.

Western will be back on the practice floor for a while before resuming its schedule against Akron University on Tuesday afternoon in the Cayman Islands. WKU’s Rick Stansbury believes the Hilltoppers will have to be on top of their game to knock off the Zips.

“(They’re a) good, tough, hard, physical team,” Stansbury said. “… They basically had UCLA beat in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. They have that whole team back so we know that’s going to be a challenge right off the bat.

“You don’t have to talk anybody after that. That first one is the one you’ve got to go get and it’s going to be a really good team in Akron.”