Bowling Green, Ky. — On the night when Crystal Kelly moved into 23rd place on the career NCAA Division I scoring list, all 10 Lady Toppers in uniform broke into the scoring column as the Western Kentucky University women‘s basketball team picked up a 72-52 win over Troy Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The game was also “Think Pink” Night at Diddle Arena as the Lady Toppers wore pink jerseys as part of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s initiative to bring awareness to breast cancer and breast cancer research.
WKU improved to 19-6 overall with the victory and moved to 12-1 in the Sun Belt Conference, while Troy fell to 10-15 and 3-11 in the league.
“More than anything we were happy to get back out on the basketball court tonight after a long break,” said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. “While it wasn’t the prettiest effort, I thought our young ladies played very, very hard tonight. Our defensive effort was established early, and we were able to carry through with that throughout the game.”
The Lady Toppers held Troy to just 32.8 percent shooting for the game, and limited the top three-point shooting team in the conference to just six threes and a 21.4 percent success rate from behind the arc. WKU was also able to limit Troy’s top scorer Amy Lewis to just five points on 1-for-13 shooting.
WKU scored on the opening tip and never trailed, but was unable to open up a double-figure lead until late in the half. After the Lady Toppers scored nine of the game’s first 11 points, the Trojans came back with a layup from Kylie Morrissy and a three-point play by Larelle Roper to pull within two at 9-7.
Kenzie Rich stopped the run with a three, and WKU was able to stretch the lead to eight on two occasions midway through the period. After a Danielle Realph three cut the Lady Topper lead to five, a Hope Brown jumper sparked a 6-0 spurt as WKU was able to open up a 24-13 lead on a Whitney Ballinger layup with 5:53 remaining in the half.
After Amy McNear stretched the lead to 29-15 with a jumper at the 4:25 mark, Troy scored seven unanswered to cut its deficit in half with 3:23 to go before halftime. However, a Crystal Kelly layup at the 3:13 mark sparked a 10-0 run to close the half as WKU took a 39-22 lead into intermission.
The Lady Toppers held Troy to just 26.7 percent shooting in the first half. After a slow start, WKU went on to finish the half shooting 41.2 percent itself. All 10 Lady Toppers played in the opening half, with eight breaking into the scoring column.
WKU’s lead never dipped below 13 points in the second half as it scored the first eight points of the period to open up a 47-22 lead on a Rich three just three minutes in. The Trojans were able to chip away and get back-to-back threes from Lewis and Laura Lee Holman to cut the deficit to 52-39 with 11 minutes to play. The Lady Toppers responded with a 14-2 run to again open up a 25-point lead with just over six minutes left, then took their largest lead of the night when a Kelly jumper at the 3:42 mark stretched the lead to 70-44. Troy was able score eight of the final 10 points in the game to cut the final margin to 20.
Kelly paced four Lady Toppers in double figures with a game-high 17 points, while Duck, Charlotte Marshall and McNear all finished with nine points. Marshall and Kelly also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds each. Morrissy paced Troy with 15 points and Audrey Muse posted double-figures with 12. Lewis finished with a game-high 12 rebounds for the Trojans.
The Lady Toppers head back out on the road on Sunday (Feb. 17) when they face off with Middle Tennessee at 2 p.m. (CST) in Murfreesboro.