Hilltoppers defeat Southern Miss 70-59

Western Kentucky coach Rick Stansbury greets Western Kentucky sophomore guard Taveion Hollingsworth after a timeout during WKU’s 70-59 win over Southern Miss on March 15 in the Conference USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas.

Western Kentucky will face Bowling Green in its first game of the 2019 U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam, the tournament announced Monday.

The Hilltoppers will face Bowling Green at 8 p.m. CST on Nov. 22 in the first round of the 20th annual event. All games will be played at the University of the Virgin Islands’ Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas and will stream online at FloHoops.com.

The eight-team event is a single-elimination bracket with each team playing three games.

Other first-round matchups include Valparaiso vs. Grand Canyon, Fordham vs. Nevada and Illinois State vs. Cincinnati.

Losing teams will compete in their second game Nov. 23. Winning teams will have a one-day break before the semifinals Nov. 24. All teams will return to the UVI Sports and Fitness Center on Nov. 25 for the final day of competition.

WKU will face Illinois State or Cincinnati in its second game, depending on the outcome of its matchup with Bowling Green. That contest will either be at 7:30 p.m. CST on Nov. 24 in the semifinals or 5 p.m. on Nov. 23 in the consolation bracket.

The championship game is slated for 8 p.m. on Nov. 25.

The Hilltoppers are 23-10 all-time against Bowling Green, most recently winning 62-52 at E.A. Diddle Arena on Dec. 3, 2014. WKU is 6-0 at neutral sites against the Falcons.

Smith to travel with Sports Reach USA program

Western Kentucky forward Tolu Smith will participate this month in a cultural exchange basketball trip to the Far East through the Sports Reach USA sports ministry program.

Smith joins several Hilltoppers who have traveled abroad through the program, including Jared Savage, Moustapha Diagne, Justin Johnson, Nigel Snipes, T.J. Price, George Fant, A.J. Slaughter and Steffphon Pettigrew.

Savage and Diagne journeyed to Belize last year with Sports Reach USA.

Participants on this year’s friendship/cultural tour, which runs from May 13-26, are scheduled to play four or five games against professional teams from Spain and China.

They will also be conducting basketball clinics with school age children, visiting historical sites and experiencing the Far East culture, while sharing their own culture.

Players on the trip will be involved in character development and servant leadership training focused on integrity and service to others, per a news release.

Smith – a 6-foot-10 forward from Bay St. Louis, Miss. – averaged 3.3 points and 2.6 rebounds as a freshman in 2018-19 while shooting 58.3 percent from the field and appearing in all 34 games.

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