Western Kentucky's George Fant, center, fights to keep the ball away from the defense of Old Dominion's Nik Biberaj, left, and Ambrose Mosley during the first half of their NCAA basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015, in Bowling Green, Ky. (AP Photo/Tim
Timothy D. Easley
January 10, 2015

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) When No. 25 Old Dominion prepared for Western Kentucky, it was no secret who the Monarchs focused on.

George Fant still had a terrific game, scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to lead Western Kentucky over Old Dominion 72-65 on Saturday.

Old Dominion (13-2, 2-1 Conference USA) had won 10 straight, and coach Jeff Jones said there were no surprises in the game.

''Fant is obviously a man in there,'' Jones said. ''He forces you to pay attention to him and the other guys made big shots - (T.J.) Price and (Chris Harrison) Docks especially at crucial times. Our guys battled. I can't say we played great but our guys were out there trying and this afternoon. Western was just the better team.''

Chris Harrison-Docks had 19 points and T.J. Price added 15 for Western Kentucky, including a perfect outing from the free throw line.

Fant had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the first half and Western Kentucky (10-5, 3-0) dominated the boards 37-31 against the Monarchs' defense that entered the game only allowing 66 points and 30 rebounds per contest.

''(Fant) stays after it,'' Jones said. ''He's a good basketball player but the thing that makes him most effective is he competes and he forces you to pay attention to him - whether he's posting up or it's on the offensive boards.

''I would like to think we would have fewer defensive lapses locating guys and on the rebounding margin, Jones said. ''That's the thing in a hard fought fight that hurt the most.''

The win over Old Dominion marked the first time Western Kentucky had beaten a ranked opponent on its home court since 1986.

Trey Freeman led Old Dominion with 20 points on 8-of-17 shooting. Richard Ross added 13 points and five rebounds.

The Monarchs are off to their best start since they became a Division-I school in 1976-77.

The loss for Old Dominion comes after their impressive top 25 debut win over Marshall where they forced 22 turnovers in a 72-51 win.

However, the Hilltoppers only committed seven turnovers, including just one in the second half.

Western Kentucky holds a 16-12 series lead against Old Dominion, with the last matchup coming in 1991, when the two schools were members of the Sun Belt Conference. The Hilltoppers have won five of the last six meetings against the Monarchs.

The Monarchs trailed 60-49 before closing to 65-61 with one minute left. Western Kentucky was perfect from the foul line to protect the lead that snapped a nine-game losing streak to ranked opponents dating to 2009.

Western Kentucky used a 16-4 run to close the first half with a 36-29 lead. It had a rebounding edge of 21-9 in first half and 37-31 for the game.

Thanks to an established rhythm from long range, Trency Jackson's 3-pointer extended Western Kentucky's lead to 50-40 at the 9:12 mark while the Monarchs struggled to respond to the Hilltoppers' aggressive defense.

Old Dominion was cold from behind the arc shooting just 3 for 12 in the second half with a 27 percent mark for the game. Western Kentucky shot for 44 percent from 3-points range in the second half.

Jonathan Arledge added nine points and Aaron Bacote had eight. The Monarchs shot for 68 percent on free throws while the Hilltoppers made 77 percent from the line.

TIP INS

Western Kentucky: Price's 3-pointer that gave Western Kentucky a 45-36 lead at the 12:32 mark of the second half gave him 248 for his career, most in team history.

Old Dominion: The Monarchs blocked four shots and five steals ... Old Dominion hit its first 3-pointer of the second half with just four minutes remaining.

UP NEXT

Western Kentucky: at Florida Atlantic on Thursday

Old Dominion: hosts Rice on Thursday.

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