HUNTINGTON, W. Va. (WBKO) --- Dee Givens became the newest member of Lady Topper Basketball’s 1,000-Point Club as WKU held off Marshall in a 69-66 overtime thriller inside the Cam Henderson Center on Saturday afternoon.
Givens tallied her second career double-double with 23 points and a career-best 13 rebounds and became the 40th Lady Topper in program history to score 1,000 career points. Her performance helped the Lady Toppers (15-13, 9-5 C-USA) snap their four-game losing streak and move back into position to claim a first-round bye in next month’s C-USA Tournament in Frisco, Texas.
Raneem Elgedawy (16), Alexis Brewer (11) and Arame Niang (11) joined Givens in double figures, and Meral Abdelgawad helped to key the offense by matching her career-best mark with five assists. WKU moved the ball very well, recording 17 assists on 24 made field goals, its highest total in more than a month.
From the floor, WKU shot 43.6 percent (24-of-55) on the day while knocking down five of their 15 three-pointers (33.3 percent).
Shayna Gore led all scorers with 26 points for Marshall (15-12, 9-5 C-USA), with Kristen Mayo (13), Taylor Porter (12) and Khadaijia Brooks (10) also reaching double figures. The Thundering Herd was held to only 37.7 percent shooting (23-of-61), WKU’s best defensive effort since holding Florida Atlantic to only 30 percent shooting on Jan. 19.
WKU jumped out to an early lead, scoring nine of the game’s first 12 points. Givens keyed the early run with five points, including her first triple of the afternoon, and Brewer’s fast-break layup at the 7:13 mark capped the strong early stretch for the Lady Toppers.
A 7-0 run by the Thundering Herd allowed Marshall to roar back and take its first lead of the day. Baskets by Mayo bookended the two-minute run, starting with a three-pointer and ending with a pullup jumper to give the Herd a 10-9 advantage.
For the remainder of the half, neither side was able to gain more than one possession of separation as the half featured six ties and 11 lead changes between the two sides. A pair of free throws by Mayo ultimately sent WKU into the locker room trailing 32-31 and needing a second half rally on the road.
The Lady Toppers again came out of the gates hot to start the third quarter, using a 9-2 run over a three-minute span to turn its halftime deficit into a seven-point lead. Givens knocked down a three-pointer to start the run, and back-to-back baskets from Elgedawy, the second a jumper with 6:05 on the clock, pushed the WKU advantage to 44-37.
That would be WKU’s final point of the quarter, however, as the Lady Toppers endured a six-minute scoreless drought while Marshall surged ahead with an 8-0 to grab a 45-44 lead at the end of the frame. Porter spearheaded the run with six points that included three free throws after being fouled outside the three-point arc.
WKU retook the lead early in the fourth quarter and pushed the advantage to as many as five points, 56-51, with 4:15 remaining after Niang split a pair of free throws. That set up a frantic final few minutes, with three ties and two lead changes in the final two minutes alone. Givens erased a one-point Marshall edge with two shots from the charity stripe with 35 seconds to play, but Taylor Pearson’s free throw at the 24 second mark leveled the score at 61-61.
Although Marshall had one final possession, Givens forced a steal and assured the two sides would head into WKU’s first overtime contest of the season.
The Thundering Herd opened the extra period by scoring three of the first four points, but the Lady Toppers responded with five straight points to take the lead for good. Marshall had a chance to tie the game with seven seconds to play, but Porter missed her second free throw and Niang came down with the defensive board to effectively ice the 69-66 victory.
WKU will finally round out its long road trip next Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. at North Texas, the Lady Toppers’ fourth straight game away from E.A. Diddle Arena. Earlier this season, the Mean Green rallied from a third-quarter deficit to defeat the Lady Toppers, 76-67, on Feb. 9. Next Saturday’s tilt will be WKU’s final road game of the 2018-19 regular season, and the Lady Toppers will close the regular season at home for Senior Night against Middle Tennessee on March 7.