Bowling Green, Ky. — Arnika Brown scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team to a 75-65 win over New Orleans Saturday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU limited the Privateers to just four field goals 10 points in the final 10 minutes of the contest, outscoring UNO by 12 during that stretch to secure the victory.
The victory improved the Lady Toppers to 10-7 on the season and 4-3 in the Sun Belt, while New Orleans dropped to 8-10 and 3-4 in the league.
"We’re glad to get the win, obviously," said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. "But more than anything I was happy with the way our team played from an intensity standpoint for 40 minutes."
After leading by four at intermission, the Lady Toppers saw UNO score nine of the first 13 points in the second half to grab a 40-39 lead on a Brittany Helm jumper less than five minutes into the period. The contest would see five ties and three lead changes over the next 5:24 until a Jada Frazier three gave the Privateers a 55-53 lead with 10:04 remaining.
It was from there that the Lady Toppers took control of the contest, going on a 10-3 run over the next 5:51 to open up a 66-59 lead after a Brown free throw with 4:17 remaining. The lead would grow as high as 12 in the closing seconds before the Privateers scored the final basket to cut the final margin to 10.
UNO got only 10 shot attempts during that 10-minute final stretch, while the Lady Toppers turned up the pressure to force seven of the Privateer’s 16 turnovers.
The trio of Brown, Kenzie Rich and Amy McNear accounted for 31 of WKU’s 40 second-half points.
The Lady Toppers shot 47.1 percent in the first half — compared to 37.5 for the Privateers, but it was New Orleans that jumped out to the early lead until a Rich three at the 14:50 mark gave WKU the lead for good at 10-8. In fact, that shot sparked a 10-2 run as Brown gave the Lady Toppers a 17-10 lead with a layup at the 12:16 mark. Brown finished the half with 16 points.
WKU was unable to shake the Lady Privateers, however, as the teams swapped baskets until a 6-2 run gave the Lady Toppers a 35-25 lead with 2:56 remaining. That would be the final basket of the half for the home team, however, as UNO scored the final six points to cut the lead to 35-31 at intermission.
Brown finished the game 9-for-15 from the field — and hit eight of her nine shots in the first half — en route to pacing all players in scoring. McNear and Rich each added 16 points for WKU, and combined for 10 of the Lady Toppers’ 17 assists in the contest. Helm paced the Privateers with 16 points, while Frazier tossed in 15 points.
The Lady Toppers will close out their three-game homestand on Wednesday (Jan. 21) when they host Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. (CST).