ESTERO, Fla. – WKU overcame its largest deficit in nearly three years in its second game at the Gulf Coast Showcase on Saturday afternoon, erasing a 14-point second-half lead for Kent State to earn a 79-73 overtime victory inside Germain Arena.
The 14-point comeback victory is WKU’s largest since coming from 16 points down to defeat Georgetown in the Puerto Rico Classic on Dec. 21, 2013. The Lady Toppers improve to 3-2 on the season with the victory, while Kent State drops to 2-4.
WKU will now face the winner of Saturday’s second game between Florida Gulf Coast and George Washington on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 p.m. (CT). The Lady Toppers have never faced the Eagles on the hardwood and own a 3-2 record in the all-time series against the Colonials.
Kendall Noble led the Lady Toppers with a season-best 28 points and Tashia Brown chipped in 21 points of her own. Ivy Brown added her second straight double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds while also coming away with a game-high three takeaways.
The Lady Toppers took advantage of their trips to the free throw line on Saturday, knocking down 26 of their 28 attempts (92.9 percent) from the charity stripe. Tashia Brown was a perfect 11-of-11 and Noble was perfect on the afternoon as well, knocking down all eight of her chances.
Kent State’s Larissa Lurken poured in a Gulf Coast Showcase-record 39 points and connected on 22 of her 25 chances from the free throw line. Jordan Korinek added 19 points for the Golden Flashes to join Lurken in double figures.
The Lady Toppers jumped out to an early lead and held an advantage for much of the first quarter. Noble and Ivy Brown each had three pointers for WKU in the opening frame and pushed the team to a 10-6 lead with two minutes left in the period. Kent State rallied, however, scoring the final six points of the quarter and taking a 12-10 lead at the end of the opening 10 minutes.
Kent State continued its run, scoring the first four points of the second quarter to build a 16-10 lead. Over the next four minutes, WKU gradually chipped away at the deficit, and five straight points, capped by a three-pointer from Jaycee Coe at the 4:32 mark, tied the game at 19-19.
Both sides battled hard down the stretch to close the half, but the Golden Flashes were able to maintain a small lead, 25-21, heading into the halftime break.
Whitney Creech brought the score within two points after a pair of free throws to begin the third quarter, but Kent State responded with an 11-2 burst to build its first double-digit lead of the afternoon. Korinek and Lurken combined for nine of the 11 points during the run.
Kent State’s lead grew to as many as 14 points midway through the third quarter as the Golden Flashes took a 41-27 advantage after a Korinek jumper at the 4:09 mark. With a 7-0 run just two minutes later, though, WKU battled its way right back into the contest and trimmed its deficit to just eight points, 47-39, heading into the final quarter.
WKU whittled away at the eight-point hole throughout the fourth quarter, finally knotting the game at 60-60 and taking a lead 30 seconds later on the strength of eight unanswered points. Both baskets came off layups from Tashia Brown as the Lady Toppers completed erased the double-digit deficit that they had faced earlier in the half.
The final two minutes of regulation featured four ties and four lead changes, but ultimately the two sides headed into overtime tied up at 67-67.
WKU took an early one-point lead in the extra frame off Ivy Brown’s free throw and the Lady Toppers did not relinquish the lead following that basket en route to the 79-73 victory.
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