Bowling Green, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team opened the second half on a 17-0 run, and held UALR to just 32 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes as they were able to pull away for a 63-49 win over the Trojans Wednesday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The win pushed the Lady Toppers’ winning streak to 11 games as they improved to 17-5 overall and 10-0 in the Sun Belt Conference. UALR fell to 15-6 and 7-3 in the league.
“We’re very encouraged to get a win over a team like UALR that we have a lot of respect for,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “There is no question that one of the reasons we were able to get it done was thanks to our work on the defensive end of the floor in the second half.”
Anshell Cooper gave the Trojans a spark going into the locker room at halftime as her jumper as time expired cut the Lady Topper lead to 35-30 at the break. However, WKU wasted little time regaining the momentum as a Crystal Kelly layup on the opening possession sparked the 17-point swing as the Lady Toppers were able to hold UALR scoreless for the first 7:26 of the period. In all, five different Lady Toppers scored during the run.
The Trojans finally broke through with a Chastity Reed three at the 12:34 mark. That shot sparked a 9-0 run by UALR as it was quickly able to trim a 22-point Lady Topper lead down to 13 with still 10:28 to play. WKU went on another run of seven unanswered points to stretch the lead to 59-39 on a Hope Brown layup with 7:05 remaining. The Trojans would get as close as 12 in the final two minutes before Kenzie Rich ended the scoring with a layup to give the Lady Toppers the 14-point victory.
WKU limited the Trojans to just eight field goals in the second half, and just 1-for-12 shooting from behind the three-point arc for the game.
The Lady Toppers hit nine of their first 12 shots out of the gate to open up a 21-11 lead on an Arnika Brown layup with 10:44 on the first-half clock. That would be WKU’s largest lead of the period as the Trojans got back-to-back layups from Andrea Keys and Kim Sitzmann to quickly cut the lead down to 24-18 with 7:08 to play.
Both teams shot the ball well in the opening half as WKU ended the period at 53.8 percent, while UALR came in shooting 42.9. The clubs also did most of their damage down low as they combined for 40 points in the paint in the opening half. The Lady Toppers were able to open up a nine-point lead with 4:43 remaining when a Rich layup made it 31-22, but the Trojans scored two quick baskets again to make it a five-point game. The teams traded baskets down the stretch before Copper — who scored 14 points in the first period — knocked down a jumper as time expired to cut the Lady Topper lead to 35-30 at intermission.
For the game, Cooper led all scorers with 20 points, but was the only Trojan to finish in double figures. Kelly paced the Lady Toppers with 18 points, and also added a game-high 13 rebounds. Rich and Dominique Duck also finished in double figures with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Charlotte Marshall joined Kelly with double-digit rebounds as she pulled down 11.
The Lady Toppers wrap up their three-game homestand on Saturday (Feb. 2) as they host Denver at 3 p.m. (CST).