HOT SPRINGS, Ark — Western Kentucky’s not ready to go home yet.
And the Hilltoppers don’t care who knows it.
WKU got 26 points from Steffphon Pettigrew, 25 from Sergio Kerusch and a double-double from Juan Pattillo as the Hilltoppers knocked off Sun Belt West co-champion Louisiana-Lafayette on Sunday in the quarterfinals of the Sun Belt Tournament at the Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Ark.
The win puts WKU in the SBC tournament semifinals for the seventh straight season, and ended ULL’s nation-best 11-game win streak.
“We really didn’t want to go home,” Kerusch said afterward. “Juan brought us together and just said ‘we’re not losing this game.’
“Everybody kept that in their mind and just started diving on the ground and staying in the game … No one was ready to go home, even the guys on the bench, we just said ‘we’re going to stay another night.’”
The victory for WKU ensures that the Hilltoppers (16-15) will not suffer a losing season in 2010-11, and it’s also the first time since the team was 3-2 that they’ve been over .500 on the season.
WKU will play North Texas in the tournament semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday inside the Summit Arena.
“Toward the end of the game I felt it was just crucial for us to build a lead,” said Pattillo, who finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and four assists. “I just told the guys ‘we’ve got to build on this and just go from there.’
“At times we’ve taken over games when we need to, but we’ve had a tendency to just relax. I think the killer instinct has been a bit of an issue. … Everyone in this room now knows we didn’t live up to our expectations (in the regular season), but this is a brand new start.”
For full coverage, see Monday’s Daily News.