FRISCO, Texas — Western Kentucky is heading back to the Conference USA championship game.
On short rest and with star center Charles Bassey battling a back injury and questionable entering the game, WKU edged UAB 64-60 in the C-USA Tournament semifinals at Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas, to move to the final for the third consecutive tournament.
“It was a challenge for both teams — 11 o’clock in the morning,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said. “It was a hard-fought, physical game, but I thought our guys came out of that locker room, we had to force our will on that other team, and I think we did it.
” … Our guys did a terrific job absorbing a quick scout. We get to the hotel at nine o’clock last night and you’re playing again at 11 o’clock this morning. They absorbed it as well as you can absorb it. Those guys deserve a lot of credit. You can’t get to the championship game unless you win that second one. It’s a three-game season. You’ve got to take them one at a time. Now we’re down to one game.”
The Hilltoppers (20-6) didn’t get a chance to compete for the league title last season, as the event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic before the team was able to open play in the tournament against the same program it beat to reach this year’s final. WKU fell to Old Dominion in 2019 and to Marshall in 2018 in the finals.