Bowling Green, Ky. — Charlotte Marshall tied a career-high with 13 rebounds and dropped in a season-high 13 points, while Crystal Kelly finished with a game-high 27 points to lead four players in double-figure scoring as the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team closed out its participation in the Preseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a 75-56 win over Evansville Friday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU moved to 2-1 on the young season with the victory, while the Purple Aces dropped to 1-2.
“I felt our defensive intensity set the tone in the first half of the game,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “ We rebounded the ball extremely well, and I felt like our mind set on the defensive end in the first half was key.”
The Lady Toppers held Evansville to just 31 percent shooting for the game — including 29 percent in the first half. WKU also pulled down 23 of its 50 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor, including eight offensive boards by Marshall. The senior has now recorded double-figure rebounds in all three games this season, and recorded the fourth double-double of her career on Friday.
After falling behind 3-2 in the opening minutes of the game, WKU got a layup from Dominique Duck to regain the lead and start a 9-0 run that was capped off by a Kelly three-point play that gave the Lady Toppers an 11-3 lead less than five minutes into the game. After three straight points by the Purple Aces cut the advantage down to five, a Kelly layup sparked a 9-2 run over the next two minutes as WKU was able to open up a double-figure lead when a Whitney Ballinger layup made it 20-8 with 11:21 remaining in the half.
Out of a media timeout, Amy Gallagher scored eight straight points for Evansville as it closed within four with just over seven minutes to go before halftime. A Kenzie Rich layup followed by four straight free throws from Kelly extended the lead back out to nine, and a Kelly jumper at the 5:53 mark pushed the lead back into double digits where it would remain for the rest of the half. In fact, the Lady Toppers closed the half on a 10-2 run to take a 35-19 lead into the locker room.
A three from Rich to open the second half, followed by a Kelly three-point play, stretched the Lady Topper lead to 41-21 less than two minutes into the second half. The Purple Aces refused to go away, however, clawing back within 13 points with a 9-2 run before WKU went on a spurt of its own to stretch the lead back out to 23 when a three from Ballinger and a Kelly layup made it a 55-32 game midway through the half.
The advantage stayed above 20 for most of the game from that point, getting as high as 27 when a Duck layup stretched the advantage to 62-35 with 7:19 to play. Evansville would get as close as 16 points in the closing minutes before Kelly ended the scoring with a three-point play to give the Lady Toppers the 19-point victory.
Kelly added nine rebounds to go along with her game-high scoring total. Ballinger also added nine boards as she finished in double figures for the second straight game with 11 points. Duck also added 11 to finish in double figures for the second time in three games.
Gallagher led the Purple Aces with 13 points off the bench, while Robyn Jennings finished with eight points and a team-best eight rebounds.
The Lady Toppers will conclude their short two-game homestand on Tuesday (Nov. 20) when they host Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. (CST) in the 25th Annual BB&T Classic.