KENT, Ohio – WKU hit 8-of-10 free throws in the final minute to seal a 59-53 win over Kent State at the M.A.C. Center. WKU (7-2, 3-0) was playing its fifth game in 11 days, including fourth on the road in four different states.
Sophomore Chastity Gooch recorded her eighth double-double of the season with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and four blocks while Alexis Govan had a game-high 17 points to lead the Lady Toppers.
The Lady Toppers have now won five road games this season, matching their combined total from the last two seasons. The four non-conference road wins is the most for the Lady Toppers since the 1996-97 season when WKU went 4-3 in non-conference games on the road. It is just the third time in the last 21 seasons that WKU has won four non-conference road games.
WKU’s 7-2 record to begin the season is its best since starting the 2005-06 season with an 8-1 record through nine games and just the third time in program history that a first-year head coach has started their career with a 7-2 mark or better through nine games.
After Kent State’s Amber Dunlap cut WKU’s early lead to 9-8 with 14:57 left in the first half, the Lady Toppers held the Golden Flashes to just one field goal in the next 8:27. During the stretch, WKU outscored Kent State 15-2 to expand their lead to 24-10 as five different WKU players scored during the span. WKU’s lead expanded to 32-15 following a drive to the lane by freshman Kendall Noble with 4:06 remaining in the half before Kent State made a massive run to end the half.
The Lady Toppers went scoreless for the final 4:06 of the opening stanza as Kent State scored 16 straight points to close the half, including six from the free throw line, to cut the lead to 32-31 at halftime. Kent State’s Diamon Beckford scored nine of Kent State’s 16 points during the stretch, including hitting all five of her free throw attempts.
WKU took nine more shots than the Golden Flashes during the opening half, but shot nearly six percent lower than Kent State at 38.2 percent compared to 44.0 for Kent State. WKU’s eight offensive rebounds in the opening half led to a 13-2 advantage in second chance points in the opening half.
After Beckford scored the opening goal of the second half to give the Golden Flashes the lead at 33-32, their first lead since it was 2-0 to open the game, the teams exchanged leads early in the half until Kent State was able to pull ahead 39-36 with 14:50 left in the game following a basket by Tamzin Barroilhet with 16:28 left and a pair of free throws by Trisha Krewson.
WKU freshman Kendall Noble then had a basket and a free throw to tie the game at 39-39 before baskets by Gooch, Govan and Jalynn McClain helped the Lady Toppers jump ahead 45-40 as part of a 9-1 run. Following a free throw from Barroilhet, freshman LeAsia Wright hit a basket with 5:53 left on a strong drive to the basket and Govan added another with 3:56 left to give WKU an eight-point edge at 49-41.
After a 14:15 streak without a field goal for the Golden Flashes, Rachel Mendelsohn stole a pass near midcourt to cut the lead to 49-43 with 2:13 left. Govan answered with 1:44 left before Barroilhet got a basket and was fouled, hitting the free throw to cut WKU’s lead to 51-46.
Kent State (1-8, 0-0) cut the lead to three in the final minute of the game, but the Lady Toppers were able to hold on and claim the win with strong free throw shooting. In the final minute, WKU hit 8-of-10 including 4-of-4 from Wright.
WKU returns home on Dec. 16 against Southeast Missouri State. Season tickets and single game tickets are available through the WKU Ticket Office by calling 270-745-5222 or 1-800-5-BIG-RED. Tickets can also be ordered online at www.wkusports.com.
For complete coverage of WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit the official website of WKU Athletics at www.wkusports.com.