FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Justin Johnson scored seven straight Western Kentucky points to open up a slim lead and the No. 3 seed Hilltoppers fought past second-seeded Old Dominion 57-49 in the semifinals of the Conference-USA Tournament on Friday.
Western Kentucky (24-9) takes on fourth-seeded Marshall (23-10) in Saturday’s championship game.
The Hilltoppers led Old Dominion 47-44 with 3½ minutes left when Johnson went up against the Monarch’s leading scorer Trey Porter. Johnson made two free throws after being fouled by Porter, drove for a layup after rebounding a Porter miss, and answered Porter’s dunk with a 3-pointer.
The burst put Western Kentucky ahead 54-46 which was enough even as WKU made just 3 of 6 free throws down the stretch.
Johnson had a double-double with 19 points and 13 boards. Taveion Hollingsworth added 11 points.
Porter scored 19 to lead Old Dominion but was called for a technical and fouled out with 34 seconds remaining. The Monarchs lost three times to Western Kentucky this season.
Old Dominion (25-7) will miss out on the NCAA Tournament for the seventh consecutive year. The best the Monarchs can hope for as far as the postseason would be an invite to the NIT.