CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Western Kentucky couldn’t complete a comeback for a second straight day against Charlotte.

The Hilltoppers rallied from nine points down and forced overtime Saturday at Halton Arena, but the 49ers knocked down nine free throws in the added period and closed out a 75-71 victory after WKU completed an 11-point comeback the day before for the team’s sixth straight win.

“Give Charlotte credit. They found ways to make another play to win the game and we had opportunities,” WKU coach Rick Stansbury said. “We had opportunities in spite of turning the ball over in regulation even, giving them some transition baskets.”

WKU (8-3 overall, 1-1 Conference USA) trailed Charlotte (5-4, 1-1) by nine with 14:41 to play in regulation, but the Hilltoppers scored eight straight points to get within one, and eventually took a lead with 7:28 to play on a 3-pointer from Jordan Rawls as part of a 15-4 run that put WKU up by as many as seven with 4:00 to play.

Taveion Hollingsworth fueled the comeback attempt with 19 second-half points. He finished with 23 points and six rebounds, and went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line. The Hilltoppers went 19 of 20 from the line in the game, and didn’t miss a shot until the extra period.

“I’m pretty hard on myself, so coach Hennessy (Auriantal) was talking to me at halftime and he was just telling me I was settling too much,” Hollingsworth said. “We talk back and forth, but he was telling me to be aggressive, and that’s what I did.”

Charles Bassey added 11 points and eight rebounds and Josh Anderson and Rawls each had 10 points in the loss.

WKU was unable to maintain its lead – the Hilltoppers turned the ball over 11 times in the second half and 21 times in the game, which the 49ers turned into 20 points – and Charlotte scored nine of the final 11 points in regulation to tie the game 64-all. The Hilltoppers had a chance to take a lead, but Hollingsworth was unable to finish a shot off the glass, and Brice Williams missed a game-winning 3-pointer at the other end.

“Not taking care of the ball obviously will lead to bad things happening, transition points, things like that ... but we’re going to try to clean that up from here on out,” Rawls said.

The 49ers outscored WKU 11-7 in overtime to close out the 75-71 victory. Charlotte scored nine points in the added period from the free-throw line, led by five points from Jahmir Young. The Hilltoppers were also without Anderson for the extra period and the final 4:31 of regulation after he picked up his fifth foul.

“Still found a way, got the last shot basically to win the game and didn’t do it,” Stansbury said. “The biggest thing is when you go up seven, you’ve got to win the game right there, and that was in regulation.

“ ... I just remember I checked Josh back in – we saved him – and Josh had a horrible foul about 50 feet from the basket and it was his fifth one, and that hurt us not having Josh down that stretch basically the last four minutes of regulation and five minutes of overtime hurt us, hurt our ability to execute some, and we were struggling scoring and we needed somebody who could make some plays defensively and off that bounce.”

Young finished with a game-high 24 points, Shepherd had 15, Milos Supica had 12 and Jhery Matos had 10. WKU had 38 points in the paint Saturday, including 20 in the first half, after scoring just 18 points in the paint Friday. The 49ers are scheduled to travel to Marshall for two games next weekend, starting with a 5 p.m. CT meeting with the Thundering Herd on Friday.

WKU won the first game of the back-to-back series with Charlotte on Friday, coming back from 11 down in the first half to claim a 67-63 victory.

WKU is scheduled to host Louisiana Tech next, with the first of back-to-back games in back-to-back days coming at 7 p.m. CT Friday at E.A. Diddle Arena.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit

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