Lady Toppers close out the regular season against North Texas, winning 76-67

WKU beats North Texas 76-67 to close out regular season
Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 9:50 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The WKU Women’s Basketball team ended the regular season on Saturday afternoon with a 76-67 come from behind win against North Texas to take a three-game winning streak into the Conference USA Championship in Frisco, Texas next week.

“I think we’re playing the best we’ve played,” said head coach Greg Collins. “It’s been a pretty steady progress of improvement throughout the season. It hasn’t always been steady quarter to quarter or even game to game, but I could count on one hand the number of bad practices we’ve had. The girls are really focused and locked in on what we’re doing and it carries over to the court.”

WKU finishes the regular season 17-12 overall and 14-6 in conference play. After a 1-5 start to the season, the Lady Toppers have bounced to win 16 of the last 23 games. WKU has claimed a second place finish in the C-USA standings after being picked sixth in the C-USA Preseason Coaches Poll. It is the fourth time in Greg Collins’ five seasons as head coach his team has met or exceeded preseason expectations.

Acacia Hayes led WKU in scoring for the third straight game and the fifth time this season with 17 points to go along with four rebounds, two assists and two steals. She has put up double digit points in six of the last seven games.

Karris Allen had another career night with 16 points, connecting on three shots from beyond the arc. Macey Blevins went perfect from the floor, making 5-of-5 shots including two from 3-point range. She finished with 12 points. Alexis Mead once again filled out the stat sheet with eight points, six assists, three steals and two rebounds. The sophomore point guard is averaging 4.0 assists per game over the last 11 contests. Jaylin Foster had five assists, five points, four rebounds and two steals.

It was the 13th time this season WKU has come from behind to win a game and the fifth time the Lady Toppers have overcome a double-digit deficit to win. It was also the seventh time WKU has been down at halftime and come back to win.

The Lady Toppers shot 52.9 percent from the field, marking the third time this season WKU has shot 50 percent or better and the second time in the last three games. The Lady Toppers are 3-0 this season when shooting better than 50 percent and 11-1 when shooting better than 40 percent.

For the 16th time this season, WKU forced an opponent into 20-plus turnovers with the 20 Mean Green miscues, and it was the 22nd time WKU has recorded double digit steals.

WKU’s bench scored 40 points in the win, bringing the season average for the reserves to 29.7 points per game.

North Texas had a 40-35 halftime lead against WKU after the Lady Toppers struggled defensively in the first half. WKU also struggled from the free throw line, going 7-of-13 from the charity stripe in the first half. The Lady Toppers were down 11 with 3:17 left in the second quarter, but ended the period on a 7-0 run to cut it to five going into the break.

WKU added to that run in the third quarter, scoring the first four points to tie the game, 40-40. The two teams went back-and-forth for the rest of the quarter and WKU took a 57-56 lead into the fourth period.

North Texas scored the first points of the final quarter to retake the lead, but a jumper from Foster put WKU back ahead. North Texas once again responded with a basket of their own to go back in front, but that lead was the final of the day for the Mean Green. WKU rattled off a 9-0 run in response to permanently take the lead. That run was fueled by five points from Allen and four points from Hayes. Mead scored six of WKU’s final eight points, including four foul shots, to seal the win.

In the second half, WKU held North Texas to just 27 points and bounced back at the free throw line, making 8-of-8 shots from the charity stripe.

WKU will travel to Frisco, Texas for the C-USA Championship next week. The No. 2 Lady Toppers will face the winner of No. 7 North Texas and No. 10 UAB on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.