Recap: Denver vs. Western Ky
Hot Springs, AR (Sports Network) - George Fant finished with 19 points as the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers held on to beat the Denver Pioneers 67-63 in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament at Summit Arena.
Kahlil McDonald added 14 points for seventh-seeded Western Kentucky (14-18), which has won five straight dating back to the regular-season en route to its eighth SBC Championship game in the past 14 years. The Hilltoppers will take on North Texas on Tuesday night with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
For third-seeded Denver (22-9), Brian Stafford led the way with 19 points. Royce O'Neale tallied 15 points and nine rebounds, Chris Udofia scored 12 points, and Rob Lewis chipped in 11 points for the Pioneers.
The Hilltoppers took a 34-31 lead into the break behind a red-hot 55.6 percent field goal shooting.
The teams exchanged eight ties and six lead changes in the second half. A Stafford three-pointer gave Denver a 61-60 lead with 2:35 remaining, but Western Kentucky responded with a pair of free-throws from Derrick Gordon and a bucket from Fant to retake a 64-61 advantage. Another Stafford bucket brought the Pioneers within one, 64-63, with 31 seconds left. After McDonald hit 1-of-2 free-throws, Denver had a chance to tie or take the lead but it could not convert. McDonald hit two foul shots on the other end to ice with win for the Hilltoppers.
Western Kentucky helped themselves at the line, going 24-of-34 from the charity stripe. Denver went just 12-of-16 on its free-throws.Game Notes