HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - North Texas had made a habit of first-round upsets at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. On Saturday afternoon, that run came to an end as the Western Kentucky women's basketball team ended the Mean Green's season with an 81-66 loss at Summit Arena.
The West Division's No. 6 seed, North Texas (5-25) couldn't overcome the hot shooting of the Hilltoppers (13-16), who hit 48.3 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from 3-point. Jasmine Godbolt and Denetra Kellum led four Mean Green players in double-figures with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
North Texas had scored first round upsets in each of the last two Sun Belt Tournaments before falling to the East's No. 3 seed on Saturday. The loss, NT's 11th straight to end the season, ties the Mean Green with the 1983-84 squad for the most in program history.
The Mean Green handled the ball brilliantly against the Hilltoppers, posting just seven turnovers - the year's first single digit turnover tally. NT's 12 assists are the most in a dozen games.
Kellum vaulted the Mean Green out to a 4-0 lead with a couple of fast break layups. The Third Team All-Sun Belt selection scored six of NT's first eight points out of the gate.
Godbolt ended an 8-2 WKU run midway through the first half with a strong offensive board and put back. On the next trip down the floor, Kellum threaded a nifty pass to Godbolt on the right block for the layup that brought NT back to within a bucket at 18-16 with 7:03 left in the first.
Laura McCoy tied things at 19 with a 22-foot 3-pointer, and Godbolt put North Texas on top on the next possession with another layup. NT ends the year with 125 3-pointers on the year, which is just 11 shy of the school record of 134.
Hilltopper guard Amy McNear nailed a buzzer beating 3-pointer to send WKU into the break on top 33-30. She ended the contest with a game-high 15 points.
The Mean Green made four of its first five buckets of the second half, but WKU was even hotter. Western Kentucky responded by making 7-of-10 to open the frame, including a pair of 8-4 runs that opened a 49-40 Hilltopper lead.
Kellum, North Texas' leading scorer at the time, picked up her fourth foul with 11:38 remaining and was forced to the bench. With its biggest weapon on the sideline NT struggled to chip away at the WKU lead, which reached a high of 17 points.