Jan. 10, 2009
BOCA RATON, FL - Western Kentucky upped its Sun Belt conference record to 4-1, defeating host Florida Atlantic 78-57 Saturday in Boca Raton.
An Orlando Mendez-Valdez triple put the Hilltoppers up 46-39 with 12:56 left and Western Kentucky (10-6; 4-1) would lead by as many as 22 late in the second half.
Florida Atlantic received 22 points from senior point guard Carderro Nwoji. The Owls were playing at home for just the fifth time this season. Florida Atlantic (4-13; 0-5) has lost eight-straight.
Mendez-Valdez scored 21 including making four of his five 3-pointers in the second half, breaking open a game WKU led 31-27 at halftime.
The score was 46-44 with 11:47 left after a three-point play by Nwoji.
Western Kentucky then methodically built a up a double-digit lead thanks to a balanced scoring attack that included 13 points from Sergio Kerusch and 12 apiece from Steffphon Pettigrew and Jeremy Evans.
The Owls played extremely shorthanded, starting walk-on forward Chris Coleman in the absence of preseason Sun Belt Conference "Player of the Year" Carlos Monroe, who missed Saturday night's game due to injury.
FAU returns to action Thursday night when they host FIU at the FAU Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
FAU Head Coach Mike Jarvis...
"There are two categories in basketball, normally you want to see who won the game and how much they won by and the other is assessing turnovers and rebounding. I would say we got beat pretty solidly in both those areas especially in the second half: rebounding and turnovers."
On WKU winning the rebounding battle 49-31...
"Rebounding has a little to do with height, but (WKU) is not that big. But when you are smaller than them, you have to box out. If you don't make the commitment collectively, five guys, then your obviously in trouble, especially with how small we are. We've done a better job rebounding against big teams, better teams. There is nobody in this league that we couldn't play with and won't eventually be able to play with."
When questioned on whether the season is a success or not...
"In college basketball the season comes down to the first week in March. Some people think the winning column defines whether you are having a good season or not. That's not true if you're a coach. As a coach you know it is much more than how many games you win as to determine if a season is a success or not. We are not here for the season, we are here for the reason, to build a program. We are going to build a great basketball program and we will eventually win the Sun Belt. Our character will be growing tremendously, both the players, myself and the staff, over the next three, four, five weeks and we look forward to that."