DENTON, Texas – WKU secured the top seed in next week’s C-USA Tournament and earned at least a share of the C-USA regular season championship with a 75-55 win over North Texas on Thursday evening inside The Super Pit, led by redshirt senior and C-USA Player of the Year candidate Kendall Noble’s near-triple-double effort.
The Lady Toppers (23-6, 15-2 C-USA) clinched the No. 1 seed in the C-USA Tournament with one regular season game remaining by virtue of holding the tiebreaker over second-place Middle Tennessee. By winning at least a share of the regular season championship, WKU has now finished atop C-USA in two of its three seasons in the league.
Noble finished the night with 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as she nearly claimed the third triple-double of her career. Ivy Brown earned her eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and both Kayla Smith (13) and Tashia Brown (11) also reached double figures for the Lady Toppers.
Terriell Bradley was the lone North Texas (11-17, 8-9 C-USA) player in double figures with 18 points. Jada Poland had a team-best 10 rebounds for the Mean Green.
WKU jumped out to a 5-2 lead over the first two minutes, but an 8-0 run by the Mean Green over the following two minutes left the Lady Toppers with a 10-5 deficit. Bradley and Candice Adams each knocked down a three-pointer during the run for North Texas, with Adams’ triple closing the stretch at the 6:08 mark.
After North Texas pushed its lead to seven points, 14-7, WKU fired back by closing the first quarter on a 14-1 run. Five different Lady Toppers scored during the run, including three-pointers from Sidnee Bopp and Micah Jones. Noble also pitched in four points over the final four minutes of the frame to give WKU a 21-15 lead after the opening 10 minutes.
WKU’s lead grew to double digits midway through the second quarter, spurred by a 10-2 run over a four-minute span. Leading 27-20 after a three-pointer from North Texas’ Bradley, four Lady Toppers keyed the stretch, including a pair of free throws from Ivy Brown after North Texas was whistled for a technical foul. Those shots from the charity stripe left WKU with its largest lead of the night to that points, 37-22.
North Texas whittled WKU’s lead to 12 points in the final minute, but a pair of late free throws from Noble sent WKU into the halftime break with a 43-29 lead.
Coming out of the locker room, North Texas scored the first four points of the third quarter to cut WKU’s lead to 10 points with baskets from Kelsey Criner and Terra Ellison. Two more times over the next three minutes, the Mean Green pulled within 10 points but could not cut the deficit to single digits.
In the fourth quarter, North Texas again managed to cut the gap to 13 points, 61-48, with five straight points on a three-pointer by Adams and two free throws by Criner. Despite the Mean Green charge, however, WKU finished the game on a 6-0 run over the final two minutes, including four points from Noble, to secure the 75-55 victory.
WKU will complete its regular season on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. as the Lady Toppers round out their Texas road swing at Rice in Houston. With a win, WKU would clinch the outright C-USA regular season championship heading into next week’s C-USA Tournament in Birmingham, Ala.
How to Follow the Lady Toppers: For complete information on WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program via social media @LadyTopperHoops on Twitter, @LadyTopperHoops on Instagram and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUWomensBasketball.