Lady Toppers cruise past UTSA into tourney semifinals

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FRISCO, Texas — Western Kentucky dominated from the start Thursday, beating Texas San Antonio 78-50 in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament.

The Lady Toppers (22-8) led for all but 25 seconds – when the game was tied 0-0 – en route to a spot in the event’s semifinals at The Ford Center. They’ll face North Texas (17-13) at 8 p.m. Friday.

The Mean Green upset third-seeded Louisiana Tech 76-69.

Senior Ivy Brown led the way Thursday with 19 of her 23 in the first half to go along with 12 rebounds. Sophomore Whitney Creech had 11 assists, senior guard Tashia Brown scored 12, freshman center Raneem Elgedawy totaled 19 points and seven rebounds and redshirt-sophomore guard Dee Givens added 10.

The 28-point win for Western Kentucky was its largest in a conference tournament game since beating Arkansas Little Rock 91-60 in the 2005 Sun Belt Conference tournament.

The Roadrunners, who ended their season at 9-21, went 2 of 16 from 3 and turned the ball over 17 times.

The Lady Toppers started off strong Thursday with a 7-0 run and UTSA went nearly three minutes before scoring. But once it did it was able to put together an 8-2 run that closed the game to 9-8 on Marie Benson’s jumper from the left baseline.

An Elgedawy layup thanks to a Nichel Tampa assist started an 8-0 run for Western and Creech’s long outlet to Ivy Brown for a layup ended the quarter with WKU ahead 19-10.

That lead ballooned to 14 early in the second thanks to Ivy Brown’s second 3 of the day at 24-10. Her layup with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half allowed WKU to enjoy a 30-17 advantage.

Ivy Brown’s third 3 of the day put the Lady Toppers ahead 38-21 and forced a UTSA timeout. That did little to slow WKU down – four straight from Tashia Brown made it 42-25 and Givens’ layup streaking on the fastbreak made it 44-25.

Western Kentucky took a 45-27 lead into the break by shooting 50 percent from both the field and from 3. Creech has 10 of her team’s 13 assists.

Givens helped break the game open in the third quarter with the block of a 3 on one end and three-point play on the other end to make it 58-33. San Antonio had nothing left in the tank to mount a comeback.


• Under Michelle Clark-Heard, the Lady Toppers are now 21-6 in neutral-site games, 24-10 in March, 40-5 on Thursday, 128-17 when leading at halftime, 140-11 when leading at the 5-minute mark, 115-15 when shooting more free throws than the opponent, 88-15 when out-rebounding the opponent, 104-14 when scoring at least 70 points and 15-7 in the postseason.

• Since joining Conference USA, WKU is now 7-1 in the league’s postseason tournament.

• Western Kentucky is 11-2 in conference tournament play under Heard.

• Tashia Brown became the fourth member of the program’s 2,000-point club with a single free throws during the second quarter of Thursday’s game. The senior has 2,006 career points going into Friday’s semifinals, 22 ehind Tiffany Porter-Talbert for third-most in Western history.

• The double-double for Ivy Brown was the 31st of her career.

• Creech's 11 assists were four short of the program record of 15 held by Tifany Zaragoza against Tennessee Tech on Dec. 19, 2005.

• The 11 assists by Creech also set a new Conference USA tournament record.

— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop