Miami, Fla. - Arnika Brown set a new Western Kentucky University
record with 21 rebounds - and added a game-high 24 points - as the Lady Topper basketball team got back in the win column with a 54-47 win over Florida International Wednesday night at U.S. Century Bank Arena.
The win improved WKU to 8-6 overall and 2-2 in the Sun Belt Conference, while FIU fell to 3-12 and 1-3 in the league.
"We all know how capable Arnika is on the boards, and I really think
tonight she made a conscious effort to go to the glass hard," said
Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. "She really got in a rhythm that has been missing the last few games, and really gave us a very balanced effort."
The Lady Toppers trailed by one at intermission, and shot just 27.3
percent in the second half. But they were able to limit the Golden
Panthers to just six field goals and 19.2 percent shooting in the final
Brown provided all the offense for WKU in the early going in the half, scoring the first 10 points as the Lady Toppers were able to regain a 37-33 lead with 10:44 remaining.
Although the Golden Panthers would get back within a point, the Lady
Toppers never trailed the rest of the way, using 10-0 run to pull out to a 51-39 lead with 3:56 left to play. FIU was able to make one final push, cutting the final margin to seven.
The Lady Toppers stormed out of the gate, grabbing a 14-4 lead just
4:53 into the contest. However, WKU saw its offensive fortunes take a turn for the worse as it ended the half shooting just 29.4 percent from the floor.
The Golden Panthers regrouped from the early 10-point deficit with an
8-0 run to get back within a pair when a Asia Wilson jumper made it a
14-12 game midway through the half. The Lady Toppers held onto the
lead, however, until a Elisa Carey three-point play at the 4:35 mark
tied the game at 19-19. Carey finished the period with 15 of FIU's 28
points, going a perfect 7-for-7 from the field. In all, it was a 15-point swing in the game as Florida International was able to score five
unanswered points to open up a 26-21 lead with 2:27 remaining before
WKU came back with six unanswered to regain a 27-26 lead on a Brown layup with 1:35 left, but Carey finished off her half with a layup in the closing seconds to send the Golden Panthers to the locker room with a 28-27 lead.
For the game, Brown was one of three Lady Toppers to finish in double figures as Hope Brown added 12 and Kenzie Rich finished with 10. Carey finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds to pace Florida International.
WKU will remain in south Florida, but will have a few days off before taking on Florida Atlantic at 1 p.m. (CST) on Sunday in Boca Raton.