When Chastity Gooch had a look at a game-winning shot in regulation Monday night, she passed the ball.
Given another chance to sway the result for her Western Kentucky team, Gooch went to the boards with determination and hit a key shot in overtime as the Hilltoppers scraped out a 79-78 victory against Colorado in the quarterfinals of the preseason WNIT. Gooch had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Western Kentucky (2-0), which will host a semifinal on Thursday against Albany at 7 p.m. CST. In the other semifinal Thursday, West Virginia travels to Mississippi State for an 8 p.m. EST tipoff.
Colorado (1-1) faced a 77-72 deficit with 38 seconds to go in the extra session, but Jen Reese hit a 3-pointer and added a conventional three-point play to carve into the margin. WKU hit just enough free throws at the end to preserve the win – Micah Jones had 20 points, and Kendall Noble added seven points, 14 rebounds and six assists.
The Buffs nearly pulled it off in overtime, but Lexy Kresl missed a layup along the baseline in the final seconds. Kresl had a great game, however, with 20 points and four rebounds. Reese set a career-high in scoring with 24 points while adding 11 rebounds; Jasmine Sborov added six points and 11 rebounds.
Western Kentucky had an eight-point lead about 10 minutes through the second half, but CU began its slow journey back in the fight on a three-point play from Kresl. The Buffs took a 67-63 lead with about two minutes to go; on two separate occasions, Western Kentucky got rebounds off their own missed free throws, and Gooch converted one chance to make it 67-all with less than a minute to go. Reese had a chance to ice the game for Colorado, but she hit just one of two free throws with 19 seconds in regulation, and the Hilltoppers didn’t get a quality shot off before the second-half buzzer.
Colorado will play in the consolation round Saturday, hosting Arkansas State at 6 p.m. MST; Penn State is hosting Seton Hall in a consolation game set for 7 p.m. EST on Saturday.