Bowling Green, Ky. — Middle Tennessee shot 58.6 percent in the second half, and used a 15-4 run midway through the period to erase a
three-point halftime lead by the Western Kentucky University women’s
basketball team and pick up a 68-56 win over the Lady Toppers Wednesday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The loss dropped the Lady Toppers to 9-7 overall and 3-3 in the Sun Belt East Division, while the Blue Raiders stayed perfect in the league at 6-0 and moved to 14-4 overall.
Leading 25-22 at intermission, WKU opened up a pair of five-point leads
early in second half before MTSU clawed back to take their first lead
since midway through the first half when a Chelsia Lymon three made it a 34-33 game with 14 minutes remaining. Kenzie Rich answered with a three to move the Lady Toppers back in front, but six straight Blue Raider points sparked the nine-point swing that gave them a 49-40 lead on a Brandi Brown layup with 7:53 to play.
WKU was only able to get as close as seven the rest of the way as Middle opened up a 59-46 lead on a Lymon layup with 5:56 to go. The Lady Toppers were able to again get as close as seven on three more occasions down the stretch, but the Blue Raiders scored the final five points of the game to stretch the final margin to 12.
Defense was the name of the game in the first half, as both teams
struggled to make any offensive runs. In fact, neither team led by more
than five, as WKU shot 41.7 percent in the opening 20 minutes to MTSU’s 34.6 percent.
Brandi Brown — who led MTSU at intermission with eight points — scored the first five points of the contest, but a 5-0 lead would be the
biggest for the Blue Raiders in the period. The Lady Toppers fought
back to take a 9-8 lead on a Arnika Brown layup at the 14:40 mark, and
did not trail again in the period after a Jasmine Johnson layup made it
14-13 midway through the period.
WKU opened up a five-point lead on another Brown layup with 8:21
remaining, but Emily Queen cut it to a 20-17 advantage with a layup of
her own on the next possession. Both squads went cold from there, going nearly three minutes without a point until a Dana Garrett three tied the game at 20-20 with 5:20 on the clock. The Lady Toppers scored five of the final seven points of the period, however, closing the half on a three from Kenzie Rich with just over a minute left to take a 25-22 lead into the locker room.
Arnika Brown led four Lady Toppers in double figures with 16 points, and also pulled down a game-high 20 rebounds. That came on the heels of a 21-rebound effort at Florida International exactly one week ago, and made her the first Lady Topper ever to post two 20-rebound games in a career. Amy McNear added 13 points, while Rich and Hope Brown accounted for 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Alysha Clark — who was limited to just three points at halftime —
finished with a game-high 18, while Brandi Brown also finished in double figures with 17.
WKU will look to rebound on Saturday when it plays host to New Orleans at 4 p.m. (CST) at Diddle Arena.