Lexington, Ky. — Charlotte Marshall’s running jumper with 3.1 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime as the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team fought back after trailing most of the second half and picked up a 78-74 win in overtime against Kentucky Friday night at Rupp Arena.
The win improved WKU to 6-2 on the year, while UK fell to 3-4.
“This is a great win for our program. I’m just really proud of how hard our team dug and overcame things tonight,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “We’ve talked a lot over the last week about demonstrating our pride, and I thought tonight our young ladies understood that as long as we stuck to our game plan and continued to dig deep, we could be successful.”
After leading by eight points at intermission, the Lady Toppers were held scoreless for the first 5:32 of the second period as Kentucky scored 10 unanswered to take a 40-38 lead on a Samantha Mahoney layup. Mahoney would go on to score 21 of her team-high 25 points in the second half and overtime as she single-handedly kept the Wildcats in front for most of the second period.
The Lady Toppers never trailed by more than five points at any point in the second half, but after surrendering the lead early could only pull even on five occasion — the last coming when a three-point play by Crystal Kelly tied the game at 51-51 with 9:30 to go. UK — which committed just one turnover in the final 20 minutes of regulation — quickly jumped back out to a five-point advantage, and traded baskets with the Lady Toppers for the next several minutes.
WKU was able to get back within a pair when a three from Marshall cut the deficit to 62-60 with 4:16 to go. A layup from Sarah Elliott at the 3:46 mark stretched the Kentucky lead back out to four, but that would be the final Wildcat free throw of regulation. Mahoney knocked down a pair of free throws with 2:22 to go to extend the UK lead to 67-62, but Kelly connected on three of four at the free throw line in the next minute to cut the deficit back to 67-65 with two minutes remaining.
After a pair of stops at the defensive end, Hope Brown missed a runner in the lane, but was able to collect her own rebound with seven seconds on the clock. After dribbling out of traffic, she found Marshall on the baseline who hit a 15-foot jumper as the shot clock expired to tie the game at 67-67 with 3.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
WKU never trailed in the extra period, jumping out to a three-point lead early when a Brown jumper made it a 71-68 score. After a three-point play by Mahoney evened things back up at 71-71 with 2:59 on the clock. Brown up WKU up for good with a layup at the 2:15 mark, but after trading baskets Elliott brought UK back within one at 75-74 with 35 seconds remaining. Out of a timeout, Kenzie Rich drove for a layup — her only basket in the second half or overtime — to move WKU in front 77-74 with 17 ticks remaining. After a timeout, Carly Morrow got a look at a game-tying three from the corner, but it was blocked by Kelly, and Amy McNear knocked down one of two at the line to seal the victory.
Kelly led all scorers on the night as she posted a double-double with 27-points and 12 rebounds. Marshall dropped in 13, while Rich also finished in double figures with 11. WKU’s freshman point guard duo of Brown and McNear finished with nine points each, with McNear also adding five rebounds and a team-high four assists.
While Kentucky controlled the second half until WKU’s late run, it was the Lady Toppers who stormed out to the early lead in the opening 20 minutes. After WKU jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, Kentucky came back with a layup by Carly Ormerod to tie things up at 6-6 as part of an 8-3 run that gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the half at 12-9 following a Sarah Elliott putback. Charlotte Marshall tied the game with a three at the other end for the Lady Toppers, but the teams traded baskets until a trey from Kenzie Rich started a 9-0 run by WKU that opened up a 23-16 lead on an Amy McNear jumper with 8:24 left in the half.
The Lady Toppers remained in front the rest of the way, stretching the lead to double figures when another three by Rich made it 32-22 with 4:24 to go, but Chelsea Chowning scored five straight for UK to cut the WKU lead in half. However, the Lady Toppers closed the period by scoring six of the final nine points as they went into the locker room with a 38-30 lead.
WKU overcame a 37-percent shooting effort in the second half to finish the night at 47.6 percent from the field as a team. It marked the first overtime game for the Lady Toppers since Kansas State ended the 2005-06 season with a 57-56 win in the semifinals of the postseason WNIT. With the win on Friday, WKU improved to 6-1 in overtime games under Cowles.
The Lady Toppers will be back out on the road next Thursday (Dec. 6) as they visit No. 18 Vanderbilt for a 7 p.m. (CST) contest in Nashville.