Ruston, La. — Amy McNear knocked down a 15-foot jumper with 1.7 seconds remaining to give the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team a 60-59 win over Louisiana Tech Sunday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center.
"We drew up that play for Amy in the timeout. We put four players on the baseline and clear out, that’s when Amy is at her best," said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles "This was a big win for us coming off Friday’s loss to Duke. I’m just so proud of how this team responded to a tough environment and came away with a victory."
WKU (4-2) had seen an eight-point lead slip away in the closing minutes. After opening up a 55-47 lead on a Kenzie Rich three with 3:01 to go, the Lady Techsters (2-3) scored 10 of the next 13 points to pull within a point on a pair of Jasmine Bendolph free throws with 44 seconds remaining. After a jumper by Arnika Brown came up short, Louisiana Tech grabbed the rebound and Adrienne Johnson was fouled by McNear with seven seconds left. After the first free throw tied the game, a Louisiana Tech timeout allowed WKU to set up a play in the huddle. The second free throw gave the Lady Techsters a one-point lead before McNear drove, spun and hit the jumper to give the Lady Toppers the victory.
WKU led by five points at intermission, but saw Louisiana Tech open the second half on a 10-2 run to regain a three-point lead with 14:58 remaining. The Lady Toppers would not lead again until Rich knocked down a three to give WKU a 43-41 lead with 8:21 remaining. The lead would change hands six more times in the contest — the last coming on McNear’s shot.
The homestanding Lady Techsters wasted little time jumping out in front as they scored the first eight points of the game to take an 8-0 advantage on a Shanavia Dowdell jumper at the 17:21 mark. In fact, Dowdell accounted for 15 of Louisiana Tech’s first 22 points in the contest.
The Lady Toppers responded to the early deficit, however, as they got on the board with an Brown layup at the 17:12 mark — a basket that sparked a 16-6 run that gave WKU its first lead of the game at 16-14 on a Amy McNear jumper at the 11:17 mark. The Lady Toppers would not trail the rest of the half, opening up a six-point lead when a Kenzie Rich three made it a 22-16 game.
Both teams went in a shooting slump in the closing minutes of the half, however, as Rich broke a nearly five-minute drought without a field goal when she knocked down a three to give WKU a 30-25 lead with 1:50 to go in the period. That would prove to be the final score of the half as the Lady Toppers took a five-point lead into the locker room at intermission.
Dowdell finished with a game-high 30 points to lead Louisiana Tech, and also pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds. Whitney Jones also finished in double figures with 13 points as only five Lady Techsters broke into the scoring column.
Rich finished with 22 points to lead the Lady Toppers — connecting on five three pointers in the contest. Brown posted her fifth double-double in six games with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, while McNear finished with 10 points.
The Lady Toppers return home to host Kentucky at 7 p.m. (CST) on Thursday (Nov. 4) in the 26th Annual BB&T Classic.