Hollingsworth’s free throws lift WKU over Gaels in NIT


FRISCO, Texas — Taveion Hollingsworth scored 21 points including two free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining to lift Western Kentucky to a 69-67 win over Saint Mary’s in a first-round NIT game Wednesday night.

Charles Bassey’s dunk with 35 seconds left tied the game after Alex Ducas made a 3-pointer to give Saint Mary’s its first lead since midway through the first half. Tommy Kuhse ran the clock down before having the ball tipped away by Josh Anderson and Hollingsworth was fouled in transition driving hard to the basket. A desperation 3-pointer by Matthias Tass missed at the buzzer.

Bassey, the Conference USA player of the year, scored 10 of his 19 points in the final eight minutes and he grabbed 11 rebounds for his 17th double-double this season. Anderson and Luke Frampton added 10 points each.

The Hilltoppers (21-7) took the lead in the first half during a 15-3 run sparked by 10 of Hollingsworth’s 13 first-half points. Anderson hit a pair of 3-pointers for an 11-point lead before the Gaels cut it to 38-31 at the break.

Kuhse scored 17 points with 11 assists for his second double-double of the season to lead the two-seed Gaels (14-10). Tass added 13 points and Ducas 11.

The three-seed Hilltoppers, the C-USA regular-season champs who lost an overtime tournament championship game to North Texas, will take on the winner of Friday’s Mississippi-Louisiana Tech game in a quarterfinal on March 25.

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