The 2017-18 season came to a heartbreaking end on Tuesday night for Dwight Coleby and the rest of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers men’s basketball team. The team fell 69-64 to No. 2 seeded Utah in the semifinal of the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in New York City, New York.
In his final collegiate game, Coleby had 10 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 32 minutes of action.
“This run through the NIT was great, honestly,” Coleby said.
“We finally played a few games on national television, which allowed my family back home to get a chance to see us, so I was grateful for that especially.
“This year was a bit different for me, because for the first time I was a leader. It was a whole new team and me and Justin (Johnson) had to step up and be leaders. Normally we’d come in and someone was already the leader on the team. That’s not really my personality to be outspoken like that. We tried our best to help the team out.”
Johnson led WKU with 24 points and 11 rebounds in the loss. Lamonte Bearden had 12 points and three assists, and Trevon Hollingsworth chipped in with eight points in the loss.
On Tuesday, Justin Bibbins sent Utah to the NIT championship game for the first time in 44 years. Bibbins made all 12 of his foul shots and scored 19 points in the win for the Utes. Utah will take on No. 4 seed Penn State on Thursday for the tournament title. The Nittany Lions booked a trip to the finals after defeating Mississippi State 75-60 on Monday.
Coleby joined WKU last summer with the hope of getting more playing time, and ultimately bolstering his stock in his final season. The 6’9” forward said he plans to go pro next season, and according to his numbers this season, the move was the right choice. Coleby averaged career highs across the board, including 11.1 points and eight rebounds per game, after putting up just 1.7 point and 1.8 rebounds per contest last year.
He scored a season-high 20 points in an 82-66 win over Southern Miss on December 30, and snagged a career-high 15 rebounds in a 69-68 win over LA Tech.