Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team led North Texas for over 36 minutes on Wednesday, but Brittany James scored seven points for the Mean Green in the final 3:25 as UNT fought back for a 67-64 win over the Lady Toppers at The Super Pit.
The loss snapped WKU’s 12-game win streak, as it fell to 18-6 overall, and suffered its first Sun Belt Conference loss to fall to 11-1 in the league. The Mean Green improved to 11-12 overall and 6-5 in the conference.
WKU led by as many as 13 points in the opening minutes of the second period, but the rest of a half was a total reversal from the first 20 minutes. After shooting 50 percent from field in the first half, the Lady Toppers managed just nine field goals and shot 32.1 percent from the floor in final period. By contrast, the Mean Green shot 63 percent from the floor in the second half to make their comeback.
UNT was able to pull within two just six minutes into the half when an Erica Howard three made it a 37-35 game. That shot ended a ended an 11-0 run by the Mean Green. After swapping baskets, a Kenzie Rich three — WKU’s only three pointer of the game — sparked a 7-0 Lady Topper run as they were able to go up nine midway through the half.
North Texas continued to chip away, however, and got within a point when a Talicia Sanders jumper made it 55-54 with 4:34 remaining. The Mean Green took their first lead of the game just over a minute later when James hit a layup to put them in front 58-57. That was followed by a James three-point play that opened up a four-point advantage.
WKU would trail the rest of the game, but were within three when a pair of Crystal Kelly free throws made it 67-64 with 11 seconds left. James was fouled and missed both free throws to give the Lady Toppers a chance to tie. However, WKU was unable to get a shot before the final horn.
It was all Lady Toppers in the first half as they were able to jump out to a quick 10-0 lead as North Texas missed its first 12 shots and did not get on the board until a Kelli Buckley steal and layup at the 12:48 mark. The Mean Green finished the opening half with just nine field goals, and shot 26.5 percent from the floor in the period.
Kelly nearly provided all the offense WKU needed in the first half, as she scored 21 points — just one less than the entire North Texas team. Kelly went 9-for-10 from the field in the period. After opening up their 10-point lead, the Lady Toppers allowed UNT to only get as close as six the rest of the period. The Mean Green got back-to-back baskets to make it a six-point game with just over 11 minutes to go, but Kelly and Arnika Brown combined for the next seven points as WKU was able to open up a 13-point advantage.
The Mean Green got no closer than seven the rest of the period, but Kelly provided all the offense down the stretch as she scored WKU’s last 11 points of the half to send the Lady Toppers to the locker room with a 34-22 lead.
Kelly finished with a game-high 33 points — just fresh off a 30-point performance against Denver on Saturday. She also pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds. Dominique Duck also added 10 points for WKU. Howard paced North Texas with 19 points — scoring 17 in the second half — while James finished with 18.
The Lady Toppers will be off until next Thursday (Feb. 14) when they host Troy at 7 p.m. (CST). That will be “Think Pink” Night as the Lady Toppers participate in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s breast cancer awareness month.