Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown have pretty much done it all. And they’ve done it together, on and off the court.
At 7 p.m. Friday the dynamic duo for Western Kentucky will play inside E.A. Diddle Arena one last time when the Lady Toppers (20-6, 11-2 Conference USA) host Charlotte.
“I’m definitely more emotional when it comes to every day stuff, but I don’t know, she’s been talking about it a lot more than I have,” Ivy Brown said. “We’ll probably both be pretty emotional.”
The Browns, sisters only through friendship, arrived in Bowling Green in 2014 as true freshmen. Ivy came from 75 miles up in the road as a LaRue County High School graduate. Tashia headed north after a standout career at Lowndes County High School (a school of close to 3,000 students) near Valdosta, Ga.
They’ve been filling up the stat sheet and winning games ever since all while forging the bond of togetherness.
“I think we knew as a staff they both had something that would bring something huge to our program and get us back to where we needed to be, I think, in conversations of top 25 programs and things like that,” WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “Then it just really flourished when they became as close as they were their freshmen year. They became inseparable off the court. If you’re close off the floor then it really helps you on the floor. They feed off each other and they really help each other grow.”
Both Tashia and Ivy will finish in WKU’s top 10 in games played. Tashia is about to pass Chastity Gooch (1,925) for the fourth-most points in a Western career and has a shot at passing Tiffany Porter-Talbert (2,028) for third. Only six players have more career rebounds at Western than Ivy’s 927.
The pair have also been a part of 104 wins (and counting), two Conference USA championships and a 64-10 record against league opponents.
They’re main focus now is getting three more victories while hoping first-place Alabama Birmingham (22-4, 11-2) slips at least once in its final three contests of the year.
“It’ll definitely be lots of emotions (Friday),” Tashia Brown said. “First and foremost I wanna try to get the win. Just gotta focus on the game and not let the rest of the senior night festivities follow and just try to keep it together until after the game is over.”
Western Kentucky has won 8 of 9 going into Friday’s matchup and are 63-7 at home under Heard. The Tops have also reeled off 18 straight wins at home against league opponents and are 39-4 in conference home games in the Heard era.
Much of that success is thanks, in part, to the play of Tashia and Ivy.
“To build a program and be consistent, as consistent as we’ve been, you have to have people that believe in you and to have people that believe in your vision even when things might not look that great,” Heard said. “I think that is what’s gonna be the hardest for me, is that those two always believed from the beginning.
"Even when Ivy was struggling, she still believed. She wanted to know what she could do her freshman year to get better for her sophomore year. Tashia the same thing, ‘What do I do to get better so I can help get this team to where we need to?’ ”
The Browns and the Lady Toppers will face a Charlotte team (12-13, 8-4 CUSA) that was won five in a row to climb into fourth place in the league standings. The 49ers, tied with Rice, are fighting to obtain a first-round bye at next month’s league tournament in Texas.
Laia Raventos, who also averages 5.9 assists per game leads four UNCC players in double-digit scoring at 14.7 points per game. Octavia Wilson (11.3 ppg), Amaya Ransom (11.1 ppg) and Nyilah Jamison Myers (10.8 ppg) are scoring threats as well.
Western has actually lost 2 of 3 to the Niners despite owning a 16-5 lead in the series dating back to 1983. But the Lady Toppers have never lost (9-0) against UNCC inside E.A. Diddle Arena – Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown will look to keep it that way.
“What they’ve done, I can’t put it into words,” Heard said. “But I’m just very humbled and I’m just honored to be their coach and to watch how much they’ve grown over these past four years.”
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop