Bowling Green, Ky. — Louisville shot 54 percent from the field and used a second-half run to pull away and pick up a 76-60 win over the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The loss was the second straight for the Lady Toppers as they fell to 6-4 on the season. U of L improved to 7-2 as it was its sixth straight.
“This was a frustrating loss,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “But at the same time we have to understand that we need to learn from this and not let the outcome dictate the rest of our season.”
Dominique Duck provided the offense for WKU in the opening minutes as she scored the first seven Lady Toppers points. WKU held a pair of three-point leads early in the half — the last coming when Arnika Brown scored her first points as a Lady Topper uniform with a jumper that gave them a 9-6 lead at the 12:42 mark. However, the Cardinals scored seven straight to open up a 13-9 lead midway through the half — an advantage they would not relinquish the rest of the game.
Despite committing 17 first-half turnovers and taking 14 less shots than the Cardinals, WKU was able to get back within a point on two occasions — once when an Arnika Brown layup made it 15-14, and again when a pair of free throws by Hope Brown cut the U of L lead to 21-20 with 6:44 remaining in the period. Following the free throws, back-to-back jumpers by Angel McCoughtry and a layup by Candyce Bingham stretched the Louisville lead to 27-20. The Lady Toppers would get as close as three late in the half, but U of L scored four unanswered in the final minute to extend the lead to 36-27 at intermission.
The teams traded baskets for the first six minutes of the second half before the Cardinals held WKU scoreless for nearly five minutes and used a 13-0 run to open up a 60-40 lead midway through the period. The Lady Toppers shot 50 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, but found themselves in an uphill battle as they could get no closer than 17 points until very late in the contest.
After a Bingham layup made it a 72-53 game with 4:26 remaining, WKU held the Cards to just two more buckets the rest of the game. A Hope Brown jumper with 1:35 left cut the Lady Topper deficit down to 14 points, but the teams traded baskets and U of L was able to get the last score to make the final margin 16 points.
Arnika Brown scored eight of her 12 points in the second half, finishing the contest 6-for-8 from the floor. She also added six rebounds in 21 minutes of action. Hope Brown also dropped in 12 points, while Duck added 11 for WKU. McCoughtry paced the Cardinals with a game-high 27 points.
WKU returns to action on Thursday (Dec. 20) when they travel to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to face #3 North Carolina at 6:30 p.m. (CST). The Lady Toppers will then open Sun Belt Conference play on Saturday (Dec. 22) at Troy before breaking for Christmas.