Bowling Green, Ky. — Following the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team’s final home game of the season Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, WKU will hold a ceremony to honor senior Crystal Kelly by retiring a jersey bearing her number 42.
Kelly will become the first WKU athlete to ever have her jersey retired while still being an active player. She will become the third Lady Topper to have a jersey hanging in her honor above the E.A. Diddle Arena floor. Clemette Haskins received the honor in 2007, and Lillie Mason was the first to be honored in 2000.
Kelly is the all-time leading scorer in the history of WKU basketball — men or women — as she has amassed 2,629 points through the first 122 games of her career. Over the span of two games in mid December, she became the all-time leading scorer in both Lady Topper and Sun Belt Conference history. Kelly broke Mason’s WKU record of 2,226 points in a game against North Carolina, then two days later eclipsed the conference record of 2,285 points held by South Alabama’s Adrian Vickers.
Just last week, Kelly — who is the nation’s active career scoring leader — etched her name into the NCAA Record Books as she became one of the top 25 scorers in Division I history. She currently sits 23rd on the NCAA list, and is just 13 points away from moving into the top 20.
In addition to her scoring accolades, Kelly has also set new Lady Topper career records for field goals (895), free throws made (828), free throws attempted (1071) and rebounds (1,167).
Accomplishments have been numerous throughout Kelly’s three-plus seasons on the Hill. She has been a first-team all-Sun Belt Conference selection in each of her first three seasons, and was selected as the league’s Freshman of the Year in 2005. Following her junior season, she earned both WBCA/Kodak and Associated Press All-America honors, and has been a candidate for three of the most prestigious awards in the country — the WBCA Wade Trophy, the Naismith Award and the John R. Wooden Award — each of the past two seasons.
The 6-foot-3 forward was named the 2007 WKU Female Student-Athlete of the Year, and was one of 15 players named to the WKU all-time women’s basketball team as part of the University’s centennial celebration in 2006. Kelly is one of 12 former Kentucky Miss Basketballs to go on to play for the Lady Toppers after winning the award in 2004 at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville.
Kelly is poised to lead the Lady Toppers to a fourth straight 20-win season, and has helped put WKU in a position to win the Sun Belt Conference East Division championship for the third time in her four seasons. In fact, with Kelly in uniform the Lady Toppers have posted a record of 89-33 (73.0%).
Her jersey will be the ninth retired to hang in Diddle Arena in honor of former WKU basketball greats, joining Mason and Haskins from the women’s game. Additional jerseys for coach E.A. Diddle, Clem Haskins, Tom Marshall, Jim McDaniels, John Oldham and Carlisle Towery honor some of the best in WKU men’s basketball history.
Saturday’s matchup with Louisiana-Monroe will be the first game of a split doubleheader at Diddle Arena to close out the home portion of the regular season for both the Lady Toppers and Hilltoppers. Kelly — along with fellow seniors Charlotte Marshall and Nadege Muna — will be honored prior to the Lady Toppers’ 3 p.m. (CST) tipoff with the Warhawks.