WKU ended a six-game road losing streak and made it back-to-back conference wins with a 70-59 victory Thursday night at Sun Belt Conference West Division preseason favorite North Texas. WKU is now 13-11 overall and 7-6 in conference play.
Nine Hilltoppers played at least 10 minutes in the game, and all nine scored. Jamal Crook and George Fant led WKU with 14 points apiece, with Fant adding eight rebounds and Crook contributing six boards and three assists. Brandon Harris scored 10 points in 22 minutes, and O'Karo Akamune tied a career high with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting in 13 minutes off the bench.
North Texas jumped on WKU from the start and led 8-0 after 3:44 gone by on the strength of six early points by Mitchell. The Mean Green led 21-13 after a Jordan Williams slam dunk, but WKU closed the half on a 14-3 run to lead 27-24 at the intermission.
Inside that run was nine-straight over three-and-a-half minutes that included two baskets by Fant, one by T.J. Price and a Caden Dickerson three-pointer.
WKU held North Texas to just one field goal in the final 4:31 of the first half. Seven different Hilltoppers scored in the opening 20 minutes, led by six by Fant and five each from Price and Crook. The Hilltoppers shot 40.0 percent in the first half (12-for-30), and North Texas went 9-for-23 (.391). WKU outrebounded the Mean Green 19-15.
WKU Women Now 10-3 in Sun Belt Play
The WKU women’s basketball team shot over 50 percent for the second consecutive game and hit its final 11 shot attempts of the first half to build a 15-point halftime lead on the way to a 76-62 win over North Texas on Thursday night.
WKU (17-5, 10-3) has now won 12 of its last 15 games and are three wins shy of reaching the 850-win mark in the program’s history. The Lady Toppers also recorded their eighth road win of the season after securing just one victory away from home a year ago.
WKU handed North Texas (9-14, 8-6) its worst loss at home this season at 14 points, surpassing the 13-point loss to Middle Tennessee by the Mean Green on Jan. 24, 2013.
Sophomore Chastity Gooch recorded her nation-leading 19th double-double of the season, scoring 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in 37 minutes. She has posted a double-double in 19-of-22 games this season, including four straight. Gooch’s 19th double-double tied Crystal Kelly’s 2007-08 output for the second most in program history in a single season. Current assistant coach ShaRae Mansfield’s 22 double-doubles in 1999-00 is the school record. It was also her eighth 20-point performance of the season and third straight.
Junior Bianca McGee also continued her strong contributions of the scoreboard, reaching the 20-point mark for the fifth time in the last seven games with 21 points in 35 minutes. Sophomore Alexis Govan added 17 points in her return to her home state of Texas. She played just 24 minutes in the game due to foul trouble, picking up her third foul with 7:51 left in the first half. In two games against the Mean Green this season, she has scored 57 points in 58 minutes played.