WKU overcame a slow start and shot 52.4 percent over the final three quarters of play to take down North Texas, 77-61, in the semifinals of the 2018 C-USA Championships on Friday evening inside The Ford Center at The Star.
With the victory, the Lady Toppers (23-8) advanced to their second straight C-USA championship game and their third in four seasons as a member of the league. WKU will take on No. 1 seed UAB on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (CT) with the league’s championship and automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament on the line.
After struggling for much of the first half, Tashia Brown found her shot and finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting; 20 of her 25 points came in the second half as the Lady Toppers held off the Mean Green (17-14). Ivy Brown also broke the 20-point barrier with 21 points and eight rebounds while shooting 9-of-10 from the free throw line, and Sidnee Bopp tallied 10 points off the bench while hitting both of her three-point attempts.
As a team, the Lady Toppers finished 26-of-59 (44.1 percent) from the floor and shot 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) from the charity stripe.
Terriell Bradley led North Texas with 17 points and was joined in double figures by Lauren Holmes with 14 points. Deja Terrell also added a game-high 10 rebounds for the Mean Green.
WKU jumped out to an early lead after Ivy and Tashia Brown combined to score the first four points of the night, but North Texas fired back with an 11-2 run over the next three minutes to surge into the lead. Four different Mean Green players scored during the run, including four points from Grace Goodhart to key the run.
Dee Givens and Bopp knocked down a pair of three-pointers for the Lady Toppers before the end of the first quarter, and WKU finished the frame on a 7-4 stretch to close the deficit to just one point, 14-13.
North Texas pushed its lead back to six points early in the second quarter before back-to-back triples from Ivy Brown and Bopp leveled the game at 19-19 at the 7:07 mark. Those three-pointers were part of a larger 13-2 run for the Lady Toppers, and Sherry Porter’s pullup jumper from the left side with 3:52 on the clock put WKU up 26-21.
Leading by one point with 90 seconds before halftime, WKU scored the final four points of the frame on jumpers by Porter and Tashia Brown to carry a 33-28 edge into the locker room.
The Lady Toppers tallied the first six points of the third quarter to push their lead to double digits, and the Mean Green were unable to close the gap below eight points over the eight-minute span. Tashia Brown scored 12 points during the quarter to keep the Lady Toppers in front headed into the final 10 minutes of action.
A quick burst of four unanswered points pulled North Texas within seven points, 58-51, at the midway point of the final quarter, but WKU responded with five straight points of its own to restore its double-digit lead that the Lady Toppers would not relinquish down the stretch as they claimed the 77-61 decision.