DAYTON, Ohio - WKU overcame a six-point halftime deficit on their way to a 71-57 win over Florida A&M to claim the championship of the Wright State Invitational at the Wright State Nutter Center on Friday evening.
WKU won its fifth straight game and remained unbeaten in games played away from home on the season (7-0 on the season).
Sophomore Chastity Gooch recorded her nation-leading 11th double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Junior Bianca McGee, playing in just her third game in a WKU uniform, had 17 points and four rebounds, hitting three three-point field goals and all four of her free throw attempts. Freshman Jalynn McClain and sophomore Alexis Govan each added 13 points.
By winning their 10th game of the season, the Lady Toppers reached the 10 win mark before the new calendar year for the fifth time in school history. WKU also joined the list of teams across the nation that have won 10 games this season, a list that included just 15 teams entering Friday's games across the nation.
The teams exchanged the lead eight times in the first half as WKU led by as many as four points in the first half and the Lady Rattlers led by six at halftime at 39-33, their largest lead of the first half. After WKU took a 33-30 lead on a three-point field goal by Govan, Florida A&M scored nine straight to end the half, including a three by Kimberly Sparkman and four points from Jamie Forman. Forman also had 10 first half rebounds, including six on the offensive end, as the Lady Rattlers held a 24-19 advantage on the boards after 20 minutes. They scored 14 points off nine offensive rebounds in the opening stanza.
After falling behind 42-35 with 18:23 left in the second half following a trio of free throws by Jasmine Grice, the Lady Toppers went on a 16-0 run, including a 9-of-10 clip from the free throw line to take a 51-42 lead with 9:42 left. WKU held Florida A&M without a field goal in the for the first 10:29 of the second half as the Lady Rattlers went 0-of-12 from the field and turned the ball over six times. It was part of a stretch of 12:19 between field goals by Florida A&M.
Florida A&M quickly answered with three straight baskets to cut the lead to three at 51-48 and again at 53-50, the Lady Toppers scored 10 of the games next 12 points to lead 63-52 before surviving the final three-plus minutes and record the win.
The invitational championship marked the 16th regular season invitational tournament title in program history for the Lady Toppers and first since the 1997-98 season when WKU won the Cancun Shootout in Cancun, Mexico.