FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Javion Hamlet scored six of his 20 points after regulation, including the go-ahead basket with 13.9 seconds left, and North Texas beat Western Kentucky 61-57 in overtime on Saturday night to win the Conference USA Tournament title game.
The Mean Green (17-9) earned a berth into the NCAA Tournament, their first since winning the Sun Belt Conference tournament in 2010.
Mardrez McBride added 13 points and Zachary Simmons 12 for North Texas.
WKU’s Jordan Rawls hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in OT and there were three lead changes and three ties before Hamlet’s left-handed runner in the lane made it 59-57. Thomas Bell blocked a potential tying layup attempt by Taveion Hollingsworth with four seconds left before James Reese made two free throws to cap the scoring.
Josh Anderson scored 14 points and Charles Bassey added 13 points and 11 rebounds for WKU (20-7).
The Mean Green jumped to a 17-0 lead about five minutes into the game as WKU missed its first eight shots, and McBride hit a 3-pointer to give the Mean Green a 10-point lead with 15 minutes left in the second half. But Anderson answered with a jumper before Bassey scored nine straight points to spark a 19-2 run that gave WKU a 48-41 lead — its first of the game — about 12 minutes later after Anderson capped the spurt with six consecutive points.
The Hilltoppers, who fell to 23-7 all-time against North Texas, used a 7-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by McBride to close regulation and force OT.
Western Kentucky has lost each of the last three C-USA title games, falling to Marshall in 2018 and Old Dominion in 2019. The 2020 conference tournament was canceled after the first round due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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