MURFREESBORO, Tenn.– Five gamers in double figures blazed a trail for WKU Hilltopper Basketball in an 82-67 team win at Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

The Hilltoppers (12-4 total, 5-2 Conference USA) shot 51% from the field, made 10 3-pointers and sank 24 of 29 free tosses in their fourth true road win over the year.

WKU lacked head coach Rick Stansbury, who will not coach this weekend as a safety measure due to a fever. Stansbury has actually tested negative for COVID-19 four times today, consisting of Saturday, but will also miss out on Sunday’s video game out of an abundance of caution.

” Ironically, entering into these last couple of weeks, Coach Stansbury has actually been on our team about being more player-driven,” said WKU associate head coach Phil Cunningham, who acted as interim head coach Saturday. “We have the mask mandate going on, so you can’t interact as much from the bench. Coach has actually been harping on these guys about being player-driven. We really saw it for the first time at Marshall on Sunday, and it simply brought over to today.”

That player-driven frame of mind was evident Saturday with the even distribution in scoring.

Junior center Charles Bassey blazed a trail with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks for his 10th double-double of the season.

Redshirt senior forward Carson Williams had 15 points and eight rebounds with 9-of-11 shooting from the free-throw stripe, and senior guard Taveion Hollingsworth likewise included 15 points.

Redshirt junior guard Luke Frampton made 4 of 8 3-pointers and scored 14 points, while sophomore guard Jordan Rawls cracked in 10 points off the bench.

” I believe it was simply us coming together,” Frampton said. “This has been coming. We have actually been working because August. It’s simply being player-driven. That’s the biggest thing, your players leading the team. I think we had a lot of that today.”

WKU trailed 10-7 at the 15:08 mark, however Frampton scored 8 straight points himself to provide the Tops a 15-10 benefit with 11:34 left in the half.

Frampton’s 3rd 3 made it 34-25 with 3:06 to go, and Williams made two complimentary tosses with 13 seconds left for a 38-30 halftime lead.

The Hilltoppers retreated in the 2nd half with a 13-0 run. Bassey’s putback dunk made it 55-36 with 14:18 remaining and forced a Middle Tennessee timeout.

The Blue Raiders (3-8, 1-4) trimmed their deficit to 13 with 3:17 left, however Bassey hit a dagger 3-pointer from the top of the key.

WKU outrebounded Middle Tennessee 35-21. Dontrell Shuler led the Blue Raiders with 18 points.

The Hilltoppers will conclude the series with Middle Tennessee at 1 p.m. CT Sunday in Murfreesboro. The game will air on CBS Sports Network.

” That was an unanticipated situation this morning, so I think everybody wondered to see how the men were going to respond,” Williams stated. “The story the game informs is that everyone responded, came together and fought through the adversity that we were dealt.”