Bowling Green, Ky. — All nine players in a Western Kentucky University women’s basketball uniform found the scoring column, and four players finished in double figures as the Lady Toppers rolled to their seventh-straight victory — and second straight win by more than 30 points — with an 86-50 win over Florida Atlantic Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU moved to a perfect 6-0 in Sun Belt Conference play with the win, and moved to 13-5 overall. The Owls fell to 4-11 overall and 0-6 in the league.
“The way we were able to take charge of the game from the opening tip tonight was really impressive,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “The last two games we’ve really come out focused from the opening tip, and maintained that level of intensity throughout. I really like the way this team is starting to build confidence and holding their composure.”
WKU wasted little time pulling to a big lead as it scored 19 of the first 22 points in the game — including a stretch of 10 unanswered at the end of the run — to open up a 16-point lead just six minutes into the contest. The Lady Toppers limited the Owls to just nine field goals in the first half, while connecting on 20 of their 30 first-half shots and going a perfect 4-for-4 from behind the three-point arc.
A Dalila Thomas layup pushed the WKU lead to 28-7 midway through the half, and the advantage would not slip below 20 the rest of the game. After Hannah Jones got two of her eight first-half points to cut the margin to 22 with five minutes remaining, a layup from Hope Brown sparked a 9-0 Lady Topper run that pushed the lead to 31 points when a layup from Arnika Brown made it 44-13. The teams traded baskets the final three minutes of the period as WKU took a 50-22 lead into intermission.
Offensively, all nine Lady Toppers in uniform scored in the first half, with Kenzie Rich leading the way with 15 points — going a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and 3-for-3 from long range.
The Lady Toppers limited the Owls to just 22.9 percent shooting in the second half as they never saw FAU get any closer than the halftime margin. After a Jaimie Givens layup made it 58-30 with 16:20 remaining, WKU scored seven unanswered to pull out to a 65-30 lead thanks to a Rich jumper. Florida Atlantic never cut the lead to any less than 32 points the rest of the way as the Lady Toppers continued to pull away and opened up a game-high 38-point lead when a pair of Thomas free throws made it 76-38 with 8:49 remaining.
The Lady Toppers limited FAU to just two field goals in the final 8:17 as they maintained the big advantage and picked up the 36-point win. It marked the first time a Lady Topper team had won back-to-back games by 30 or more points since wins over UALR and Columbia in mid January of 2005.
Rich led all scorers with 21 points, while also pulling down four rebounds. Dominque Duck and Hope Brown each finished with 12 points, and Crystal Kelly finished with 11. Arnika Brown finished with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds. In fact, the Lady Toppers held a 34-12 lead in bench scoring on the evening. Carla Stubbs paced Florida Atlantic with 13 points, with Givens also finishing in double figures with 10.
The Lady Toppers head back out on the road this weekend as they visit Louisiana-Lafayette for a 3 p.m. (CST) game on Sunday (Jan. 20).