Troy, Ala. — Less than 48 hours after becoming the all-time leading scorer at Western Kentucky University, senior forward Crystal Kelly continued to cement her place in Lady Topper history Saturday afternoon in WKU’s 80-74 win at Troy.
Kelly scored 18 of her 38 points in the first half, becoming the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leading scorer thanks to a pair of free throws with 53 seconds remaining in the period. That moved her past South Alabama’s Adrian Vickers, who previously held the record with 2,285 career points. Her 38-point effort equalled a career high and was the third time this year that Kelly has gone for more than 30 points. She also finished the night with nine rebounds, and is now tied with Lillie Mason for the most boards in history with 1,012.
It was a seesaw half for WKU (7-5, 1-0 SBC East) as it scored five of the first seven points to open up an early lead. However, Troy (6-5, 0-2 SBC East) came back with threes on three straight possessions — two from Laura Lee Holman and one from Amy Lewis — to take an 11-7 lead of its own with 14:10 to go in the period. The Trojans would remain in front for a majority of the period, building a six-point advantage on four occasions.
The Lady Toppers were able to keep the deficit manageable, and used a 9-2 run to regain a 26-25 lead on a Dominque Duck layup with 4:06 on the first-half clock. The lead was short-lived, however, as Kylie Morrissy connected on a four-point play to move Troy back in front by three. A pair of Kelly free throws and a layup by Amy McNear put WKU back in front by one, and the teams swapped the lead six times in the final three minutes as Troy took a 35-34 lead into intermission.
It was WKU which took advantage of open shots in the second half, connecting on 51.7 percent of its shots. Kelly came out and scored 10 points in the first 4:32 to move the Lady Toppers to a 46-44 lead. The Lady Toppers would not trail the rest of the game, and built an eight-point lead twice late in the contest.
However, Troy refused to go away as it cut the WKU lead down to three points on several occasions. The last came when Lewis knocked down a three to make it a 75-72 game with just 44 seconds remaining. WKU — which hit 36 of 33 at the line in the contest — knocked down five charity shots in the final seconds to make the margin six at the final buzzer.
“We really made plays offensively in the second half and did a great job taking care of the basketball,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “I thought we did a really good job on the offensive glass tonight and were able to limit them to just one shot on the offensive end.”
In addition to putting up points, WKU also took care of the basketball, committing a season-low 13 turnovers in the contest — only two in the second half. The Lady Toppers also held a 33-21 advantage on the glass, pulling down 12 offensive boards.
In addition to Kelly’s career night, Duck dropped in 12 points, while Kenzie Rich tossed in nine and Arnika Brown finished with eight points off the bench. Lewis paced the Trojans with 29 points, while Morrissy tossed in 20.
The Lady Toppers will take a week off for Christmas before returning to action next Saturday (Dec. 29), hosting Missouri State at 4 p.m. (CST) at E.A. Diddle Arena.