OXFORD, Ohio (WBKO) --- Dee Givens exploded for 13 of her 20 points in the third quarter as WKU outscored Miami (Ohio) by 12 points in the frame, overcoming an 11-point deficit inside Millett Hall on Thursday evening to advance to the second round of the 2019 Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) with a 67-63 victory.
With the win, WKU will now host Morehead State on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. (CT) inside E.A. Diddle Arena. Tickets are on sale now through the WKU Ticket Office at WKUTickets.com or by phone at 1-800-5-BIGRED. Season ticket holders will have first priority for their seats ahead of Sunday’s game.
Givens poured in a team-high 20 points despite taking only seven shots on the night, doing much of her damage with a 10-for-12 performance from the free throw line. The Lady Toppers (19-14) also got a double-double from Raneem Elgedawy (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Alexis Brewer added 16 points to round out the trio in double figures.
WKU overcame 16 turnovers on the night with 50 percent shooting (24-of-48) from the floor, while also putting together a strong showing from the charity stripe as well (17-of-21, 81 percent).
Lauren Dickerson led all scorers with 25 points on the night but needed 29 shots to reach her total for the RedHawks (23-9). Kendall McCoy joined her in double figures with 15 points. Miami was sharp from beyond the arc, hitting 10 of its 27 attempts (37 percent), but faded after a strong first quarter, being outscored by 15 points the rest of the way.
Miami jumped out to an early 7-2 lead on the Lady Toppers over the first two minutes, with McCoy’s three-pointer pushing the lead to five points. WKU was not deterred by the early deficit, however, as Elgedawy and Whitney Creech each knocked down shots to trim the RedHawks’ advantage to just one point over the next two and a half minutes.
From there, the RedHawks ended the first quarter on a 13-3 run over the final five minutes to take a commanding 20-9 lead. A pair of triples by McCoy and another from Dickerson keyed the long run for Miami, who forced seven Lady Toppers turnovers in the first 10 minutes to take control of the game.
WKU came out of the short break and began the second quarter with five straight points, including a left corner three-pointer from Brewer to cut Miami’s lead back to single digits. Two minutes later, a Givens jumper pulled the Lady Toppers within four points, 22-18, but the RedHawks scored eight of the next 12 points to again rebuild a sizable 30-22 lead.
Miami’s lead grew to as many as 10 points on another Dickerson triple with just over a minute remaining, but Brewer’s buzzer-beating jumper from the top of the key pulled WKU within eight, 35-27, heading into the locker room.
Leah Purvis opened the third quarter with another three-pointer for the RedHawks to build a double-digit lead, but from there the Lady Toppers took control over the remainder of the third quarter. WKU used a 24-4 run, including 17 unanswered points, to completely erase its deficit and surge into the lead. Back-to-back baskets from Givens and Sherry Porter gave the Lady Toppers their first lead of the night, 43-42, with 3:29 on the clock, and Givens’ fast-break layup two minutes later capped the run and gave WKU a 51-42 advantage.
WKU maintained its edge until the early part of the fourth quarter, when Miami pulled back in front with six straight points; Baleigh Reid’s three-point play with 8:23 to play put the RedHawks up, 56-53.
The two sides were locked in a back-and-forth battle over the next five minutes, with neither team able to gain more than a one-possession lead. With the game tied at 61-61, Creech drove in and dropped in a hard-fought layup to take the lead, but Dickerson quickly responded on the other end with a jumper to knot the game at 63-63 with 41 seconds remaining.
Brewer’s pullup with 21 seconds on the clock put WKU in front for good. Miami committed a backcourt violation with six seconds left, and Elgedawy converted both free throws in the closing seconds to seal the 67-63 comeback victory.
WKU will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in the second round of the WNIT inside E.A. Diddle Arena, hosting Morehead State. The Eagles knocked off Ohio State on the road in the opening round, but the Lady Toppers have won 16 straight games in the series against Morehead State. In the most recent meeting, WKU earned a 65-52 win over the Eagles on Dec. 1, 2013, inside Diddle Arena.