WKU Women’s Basketball: Lady Tops earn win 1,000 in 71-66 road victory at North Texas

DENTON, Texas – For the second straight game, WKU rallied from a halftime deficit and won in a thriller, taking down North Texas, 71-66, inside The Super Pit on Saturday evening for the 1,000th win in program history, becoming only the 11th NCAA Division I women’s basketball program to accomplish that feat.

Needing a victory to remain in position for a first-round bye in the upcoming C-USA Tournament, WKU (16-13, 10-5 C-USA) rallied past the Mean Green (14-13, 7-8 C-USA) by outscoring them 21-11 in the final quarter of play and limiting them to just one made three-pointer for the entire contest.

Dee Givens turned in a strong performance, scoring a game-high 24 points and pulling down six rebounds while also matching her career-best mark with eight steals. Whitney Creech exploded for a season-best 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Raneem Elgedawy scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half while playing a key role in WKU’s late rally.

WKU shot 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) from the field, a number that included a 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) mark in the second half. Despite dropping the rebounding battle, 43-24, WKU only surrendered seven second-chance points to North Texas and capitalized on turnovers, scoring 23 points off 22 Mean Green miscues.

Terriell Bradley, who was honored in a pregame ceremony as part of North Texas’ Senior Night event, scored 19 points to lead the Mean Green. Anisha George (12), Charlene Shepherd (12) and Madi Townley (10) also joined Bradley in double figures.

WKU jumped out to an early lead after scoring the first four points of the night, but a 10-0 run by the Mean Green over the next three and a half minutes erased the early advantage. Six straight points by George spearheaded the run for North Texas, and a jumper by Grace Goodhart at the 4:43 mark pushed the Mean Green out to a 10-4 edge.

A three-pointer by Arame Niang slashed the deficit in half for the Lady Toppers, and two free throws from Alexis Brewer also cut into the gap before North Texas scored four of the final six points of the opening quarter to take a five-point lead.

The Mean Green maintained at least a three-point lead over WKU for much of the second quarter until Creech’s pullup with 3:11 to play left North Texas with only a 22-20 lead. The Mean Green managed to push their advantage back to six points before Creech struck again on WKU’s final possession of the half, driving to the layup while switching hands to pull WKU within four, 30-26, entering the break.

WKU roared out of the gates to start the third quarter, scoring the first five points on a layup from Niang and three-pointer from Creech to grab a 31-30 lead over the Mean Green. From that point, neither side could gain more than a one-possession lead over the next six minutes before a 7-0 run by the Lady Toppers, capped by a three-point play by Givens at the 3:09 mark, gave WKU its largest lead of the night, 49-43.

From there, however, North Texas pieced together a 12-1 run over the final three minutes of the quarter, erasing WKU’s advantage to go up 55-50 entering the final 10 minutes of play. Three different North Texas players scored during the run, and Bradley’s fast-break layup in the closing seconds established the five-point edge.

A 12-3 burst to begin the fourth quarter proved to be the decisive answer from the Lady Toppers. Five points from Elgedawy, with Givens adding four and another three from Creech, keyed the stretch that put WKU up 62-58 after Creech’s three-point play with 4:23 remaining. Though North Texas was able to tie the game on two occasions down the stretch, WKU never allowed the Mean Green back in front in the 71-66 victory.