Washington, D.C. — Crystal Kelly posted her second straight double-double with 27 points and 12 rebounds, while Dominique Duck tossed in a season-high 20 as the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team picked up an 88-71 win over Southern Illinois Friday afternoon at the Smith Center in the first game of the 2007 George Washington Thanksgiving Classic.
The win was the third straight for the Lady Toppers as they improved to 4-1 on the season. WKU will face 15th-ranked George Washington at 4:30 p.m. (CST) on Saturday in the final game of the tournament. The Salukis fell to 1-3 on the year with the loss.
After shooting 60 percent from the field in the first half, the Lady Toppers connected on 50 percent of their shots in the second period to maintain a double-figure lead. WKU opened the final 20 minutes on a 6-0 run — getting four points from Duck and two from Charlotte Marshall during that stretch — to open up a 54-38 lead early in the half.
The Salukis got a three from Ellen Young and a jumper by Jasmine Gibson to cut the Lady Topper lead to 11 points, but after trading buckets, Whitney Ballinger and Duck accounted for four unanswered points as WKU stretched the lead back out to 64-49 six minutes into the half.
SIU got a three-point play from Jayme Sweere and a bucket by Cortney Sales to get within 10, but the Lady Toppers used a 13-5 run to open up a game-high 18-point lead when a pair of free throws from Dalila Thomas made it 77-59 with 7:49 remaining. Southern Illinois got as close as 14 points late in the game, but WKU was able to stretch the margin to 17 by the final buzzer.
The Lady Toppers were able to control the pace of the game from the outset, scoring 24 fast-break points as opposed to just four for SIU. WKU also got 58 of its 88 points in the paint.
Kenzie Rich joined Duck and Kelly in double figures as she tossed in 11, while Hope Brown added nine and Marshall contributed eight points and seven rebounds for the Lady Toppers.
Duck got the Lady Toppers off to a quick start offensively as she scored four points in the first 30 seconds to give WKU a quick lead. In fact, Duck and Kelly accounted for the first 15 points for the Lady Toppers as they helped open up a 15-6 lead on a Kelly three-point play just 3:40 into the game. In fact, the duo led WKU in score at the break as Kelly tossed in 14 points and Duck added 12 in the opening period.
A pair of Kelly free throws gave WKU its first double-figure lead when a pair of free throws made it 17-7, and Brown had a three-point play to stretch the lead to 13 just five minutes into the game. However, with the Lady Toppers leading 22-9, a jumper by Young started a 10-2 SIU run as the Salukis got within five when Young knocked down a three to make it a 24-19 score. Young scored eight of her 13 first-half points during that run.
WKU responded with a 7-1 run over the next two minutes to again push the lead into double figures at 31-20 midway though the half. Southern Illinois would get no closer than eight the remainder of the half as the Lady Toppers built a 14-point lead on three occasions. SIU was able to score the final four points of the half, however, to cut the WKU lead to 48-38 at intermission.
Three Salukis finished in double figures as Young dropped in 22 points off the bench. Gibson added 16 and Sweere tossed in 14 for Southern Illinois.