BOWLING GREEN — Western Kentucky basketball fans may be seeing a lot more of Jamarion Sharp the rest of the way in the 2021-22 season.
Making his first start at WKU, the 7-foot-5 junior center produced only the third triple-double in school history — 10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks — to drive the Hilltoppers past Alabama A&M 88-62 on Wednesday afternoon in E.A. Diddle Arena.
The victory snapped a three-game losing skid and improves Western to 2-3 entering a noon contest on Saturday against visiting UT Martin.
“I felt great out there today,” said Sharp, who played his high school basketball at Hopkinsville. “I just wanted to bring energy and make a positive contribution to what was going on out there — I just want to play hard and help our basketball team any way I can.”
Western dominated the contest from start to finish, using 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range (73%) to build a commanding 47-25 advantage by intermission.
Powering WKU were Sharp, who had four points, nine rebounds and six blocks, and 6-8 senior swingman Jairus Hamilton, who was 5-of-5 from the field on the way to 13 points. Luke Frampton was 3-of-4 from distance, adding 10 first-half points.
The Hilltoppers’ defense was also stout in the first 20 minutes, limiting the Bulldogs to 9-of-32 accuracy from the field (28%).
“I thought we carried the last two practices over to today’s game — very sharp and ready to go,” WKU head coach Rick Stansbury said. “We got contributions from a lot of folks, added on when we brought people in off the bench, and that’s what you’re looking for.
“This was a really good team win for us, and we just need to find a way to keep getting better every day. I thought we made some good strides today, playing with a lot of energy and doing a lot of positive things.”
Alabama A&M, out of the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC), put together a 9-2 run early in the second half and pulled within 57-43 at the 12:12 mark on a layup by Cameron Tucker.
The Hilltoppers, however, responded with a 10-2 spurt — keyed by Isaiah Cozart’s five consecutive points — to rebuild their lead to 67-45 after a Cam Justice 2-pointer with 9:15 to go.
Western was never seriously threatened, thereafter.
The Hilltoppers showed good scoring balance, led by 6-5 sophomore guard Sherman Brashear’s 18 points. Hamilton scored 15, Frampton scored 12, and Josh Anderson produced 11 points and a game-best nine assists.
But the story of the day was Sharp, who joined Orlando Mendez-Valdez and Darius Thompson on the program’s triple-double list.
“The big man was a factor in a lot of ways,” Stansbury said of Sharp. “He played hard, played with a lot of energy, and even the shots he didn’t block, he had the opposition thinking about it — they knew he was in the area and that, too, made him a significant factor out there.”
WKU shot 56% from the field, dished 27 assists on 33 made field goals, and outrebounded the Bulldogs by a 49-31 margin, offsetting 20 floor errors.
Garrett Hicks scored a game-best 21 points, making 5-of-11 shots from distance, to pace Alabama A&M (1-4).