BOCA RATON, Fla. — The WKU women's basketball team clawed back from an 11-point halftime deficit to have the game tied in the final minute, only to fall 60-58 at Florida Atlantic Wednesday night. The Lady Toppers had a chance to take the lead in final 20 seconds, only to see three shots miss the mark and the Owls make two free throws for the win. Senior forward LaTeira Owens led WKU with 18 points and added five rebounds.
Vanessa Obafemi made 3-of-5 three-pointers for nine points on the game. Sophomore guard Ellen Sholtes, in her first career start, scored eight points with a team-high three assists and three steals. Sholtes also played a career-high 35 minutes. Keshia Mosley added six points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Florida Atlantic (11-8, 6-2 Sun Belt) jumped out to a fast 8-0 lead, getting an April Goins three-pointer and a Chenise Miller three-point play to open the game. WKU (6-14, 3-5) responded with an 8-4 run of their own as Obafemi's second triple of the game made the score 12-8 with 14:37 remaining in the opening half. The Owls grew the lead up to nine, 17-8, one minute later before back-to-back baskets by Owens put the score at 17-12 with 12:53 to go in the first. Owens' buckets started an 11-4 Lady Toppers run that allowed WKU to cut Florida Atlantic's lead to two, 21-19, with 7:04 to go.
The Lady Toppers then went cold from the field, not making a field goal for the final 7:43 of the first half. After a pair of Danay Fothergill free throws made the score 25-21, the Owls closed the half on an 8-1 run to take a 33-22 lead into halftime. Florida Atlantic shot 43.3% from the field in the first half, holding WKU to 29.6%.
The Owls grew their lead to 12 early in the second half, but WKU came alive with a 9-4 run sparked by Obafemi's third three-pointer of the game. Alexis Govan capped off the run with a three-point play, getting the Lady Toppers within four, 40-36, with 15:17 to play. Florida Atlantic grew its lead back to eight on a Goins jumper with 13:39 to play, making the score 44-36. With the score 48-40, Owens made a jumper that started a 10-2 run for WKU. Owens scored five points in the run, as Sholtes, Mosley, and Govan all contributed to the run that tied the game 50-50 with 7:26 to play.
The Owls took a three-point lead with 4:52 to play as a Kimberly Smith three-pointer put Florida Atlantic ahead 55-52. WKU came back to tie the game 56-56 on four straight points from Mosley with 2:54 to play. Mosley's layup that tied the game would be the last field goal of the contest. Goins gave the Owls a 58-56 lead with 2:23 to play. After the Lady Toppers turned the ball over on their next possession, Sholtes stole the ball from Florida Atlantic's Teri Stamps who fouled her to put her on the free throw line. Sholtes made both foul shots to tie the game at 58-58 with 1:45 seconds to play.
After the two teams traded missed layups, it was WKU with the ball and 30 seconds left. Mosley got the ball on the left block and put up a layup with nine seconds left and missed. She then had two more attempts at the game-winning basket before Goins pulled down a rebound and was fouled with six seconds to play. Goins toed the line and made both free throws to put the Owls up 60-58. The Lady Toppers had one last chance to tie. Sholtes took the ball the length of the floor, but her shot in the lane missed and Florida Atlantic came away with the two-point win.
WKU shot 35% from the field Wednesday night as Florida Atlantic shot 42.3%. The Lady Toppers did shoot 81.3% at the free throw line, making 13 of 16 foul shots. WKU also held a 39-36 advantage on the boards. Miller led the Owls with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Goins added 11 points.
The Lady Toppers are back in action Saturday at 4:30 when they take on the FIU Panthers in Miami. Tip-off at U.S. Century Bank Arena is at 4:30 p.m. The game will be televised locally on WKYU-PBS as well as on Fox College Sports and DirecTV.