McNear scores season high to boost Lady Toppers past North Texas


Senior guard Amy McNear scored 25 points on Saturday, a season high. McNear helped push the Lady Toppers to an 81-66 win over North Texas in the first round of the Sun Belt tournament in Hot Springs, Ark.

Jonathan Lintner

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. — Senior guard Amy McNear has made a habit out of draining buzzer beaters in her four-year WKU career.

McNear reaffirmed her clutch shooting abilities on Saturday when she sank a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to gave the Lady Toppers a 33-30 lead over North Texas.

After a first half that included eight ties and 11 lead changes, WKU (13-16) never trailed again in an 81-66 win over the Mean Green (5-25) at Summit Arena, advancing to the second round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.

“We kind of had a momentum swing at the end when the shot was made,” said McNear, who scored a season-high 25 points — 18 of those in the first half.

The Lady Toppers pulled away in the second half, reaching a double-digit lead with 14:05 to play and leading by as many as 17 points while their second-round foe, Denver, watched from the stands adjacent to the WKU bench. The Lady Toppers meet the Pioneers at 12:15 p.m. CT Sunday on Convention Center Court.

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said the way McNear approached the halftime buzzer beater was as her “signature shot” — off a ball screen from a post player. But Cowles said it was more than McNear’s scoring ability that propelled the Lady Toppers.

“In the second half, we found something offensively that worked,” Cowles said. “But I think the reason it was so effective for us and we were able to stick with it was because she — with the ball in her hand — was so creative not with her scoring, but distributing the basketball and finding lots of different things that were open and successful for us to execute and put points on the board.”

Three other Lady Toppers reached double figures against the Mean Green. Junior forward LaTeira Owens scored 14 points and had nine rebounds, and junior guard Vanessa Obafemi had 11 points and three rebounds.

Junior forward Keisha Mosley scored 10 points and added six rebounds off the bench but said that would have never happened without McNear, who also dished out six assists.

“Amy is the one that’s basically known for getting us open, penetrating, doing what she can to get us in the post open,” Mosley said. “I think that helped a lot and created space for us down low.”

Sophomore forward Jasmine Godbolt led North Texas with 18 points, and three others joined her in double figures. But the rest of the Mean Green combined to score just nine points.

Neither team led by more than six points in the first half. North Texas raced out to a 4-0 lead — its largest of the game — before WKU took control.

“In the first half, I think it was just two teams really battling and coming out aggressive,” McNear said.

The teams were tied at 30 before McNear’s shot leading into the half.

The senior guard said she’ll try to come out on Sunday with the same focus she had on Saturday in hopes that it translates into a win over the Pioneers, who beat WKU in the teams’ only meeting earlier this season.

“I just had the mindset that I had to help my team out whatever way I can, and today that was with scoring and passing the ball to get my teammates involved,” McNear said.


McNear’s career high is 28 points…Senior forward Arnika Brown had a streak of three double-doubles coming into Saturday’s game. Brown finished with nine points and eight rebounds…North Texas finished its season on an 11-game losing streak and tied its program record for losses in a season with 25.