WKU Hilltoppers Fall to North Texas in Overtime Heartbreaker, 61-57

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers suffered heartbreak again on Saturday night as they fell to North Texas in the Conference USA Championship, 61-57.

The Mean Green were on fire to start the game and jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first 5:19 of play.

A Josh Anderson tip-shot finally got WKU on the board at the 14:13 mark and the Hilltoppers were able to back battle throughout the rest of the half to trim their deficit to 34-23 at the break.

Rick Stansbury’s squad looked like a different team after intermission, though, and used stifling team defense to go on a 19-5 run that gave them a 42-39 lead with 7:33 left to play.

Western Kentucky would extend their advantage to 48-41 with less than three minutes to play, but failed to score again in regulation as North Texas stormed back with a 7-0 run to tie things at 48.

The Tops had a chance to end things at the end of regulation, but a turnover by Jordan Rawls with 3.7 seconds left squashed the WKU threat and sent the game to OT.

North Texas and Western Kentucky traded buckets in the back-and-forth overtime period, but a Javion Hamlett floater with 13.9 seconds remaining gave UNT a lead they would not relinquish as Tops’ guard Taveion Hollingsworth missed a game-tying layup and James Reese knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Mean Green the 61-57 win.

WKU has now lost three consecutive Conference USA Championship games, with each coming in heart-breaking fashion.

The Hilltoppers drop to 20-7 overall and wait to see what their fate will be as the NCAA Tournament field is announced on Sunday.