Courtney Lee sank a pull-up 18-foot jump shot with 1.7 seconds remaining Thursday to help Western Kentucky pull out a 74-73 Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball victory over Arkansas-Little Rock at the Jack Stephens Center.

The Hilltoppers needed Lee’s heroics despite leading the first 39-plus minutes —Zack Wright gave the Trojans their only advantage of the night after hitting two free throws with 21.2 seconds to go.

WKU (19-5, 11-1 Sun Belt) has won its last four league road games by five or fewer points, and is in the midst of a season-high seven-game win streak. UALR (13-11, 5-6 SBC) has dropped four of its last six contests.

When former Caverna standout Boris Siakam hit a short jumper at 9:47, the Toppers had a 62-43 edge, their largest of the night. Byron Ray scored six points and Wright added five to cut the deficit to 11 before a dunk from Lehkeythan Malone made the score 67-58 with 5:02 remaining. Wright’s steal and pass to Elijah Muldrow led to a Trojan layup with 1:29 to go, making the score 71-67 while concluding a 7-0 spurt.

Ty Rogers made 1-of-2 free throws 13 seconds later, but Rashad Jones-Jennings layup cut the deficit to one, 72-71, with 37 seconds left.

Wright was fouled by Lee after a steal, leading to UALR’s final points.

“It’s pretty obvious that we didn’t take care of the basketball down the stretch, we had too many trips without getting a shot and not running the clock,” WKU head coach Darrin Horn said.

Lee and Benson Callier shared game-high scoring honors with 16 points apiece, while Anthony Winchester added 14. All three players grabbed six rebounds as the Toppers won the battle of the boards, 32-26.

WKU shot 56.6 percent for the contest and made 11-of-15 free throws.

Wright posted a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, adding six steals in 39 minutes. De’Andre Eggins and Malone both scored 13 points of the bench, while Muldrow and Ray collected 12 apiece and Jones-Jennings posted 10 points and six boards.

The Trojans shot 45.8 percent for the game while connecting on 87.5 percent at the foul line.

The Toppers led the entire first half, beginning by hitting 15 of their first 21 shots from the field before finishing with a 58.6 percentage in the opening period. Winchester collected 12 points, including eight during a three-minute and 16-second span as WKU built a 24-14 advantage with 10:27 remaining.

Lee then came in for Winchester and scored eight of the Hilltoppers‚ next 11 points as they extended to a 35-20 lead, their largest of the half, with 5:47 to go.

UALR cut into the deficit by closing the half on a 14-4 run to trail, 39-34. Jones-Jennings, Malone and Muldrow each scored four during that stretch.


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