Efficient Second Half Pushes Lady Toppers Past ULM

By: Chris Glowacki, WKU Athletic Media Relations
By: Chris Glowacki, WKU Athletic Media Relations

Monroe, La. — The Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team shot 70.6 percent from the field in second half, and erased an eight-point first-half deficit to pick up a 62-58 win over Louisiana-Monroe Wednesday night at Fant-Ewing Coliseum.

The win improved the Lady Toppers to 13-9 overall and 7-5 in the Sun Belt Conference East Division, while ULM dropped to 12-10 and 5-6 in the league’s west division.

"We played really hard with a lot of enthusiasm tonight," said Lady Topper head coach Mary Taylor Cowles. "The way we executed in the second half was tremendous. This was a great team win for us."

WKU got just 17 shot attempts in the second half — compared to 35 for ULM — but connected on 12 of those shots and hit 12 of its 15 shots at the free throw line. Despite getting 25 offensive rebounds for the game and 18 more shot attempts in the second half, the Warhawks hit two less shots that WKU in the period.

Trailing by four at intermission, the Lady Toppers traded baskets until finally grabbing a two-point lead when an Arnika Brown jumper made it a 40-38 game with 13:44 remaining. WKU would not trail the rest of the way, pulling out to a 48-41 lead on a jumper by Amy McNear at the midway point of the period. McNear gave the Lady Toppers a six-point advantage with 4:34 remaining, but ULM stuck around with a pair of threes late — including one by Jesse Carrier that cut the lead to 59-56 with 1:22 remaining.

However, the Lady Topper defense held up down the stretch, getting stops on three straight possessions and connecting on three free throws to stretch the lead to six before Sannisha Williams hit a layup right before the horn to cut the final margin to four.

The Lady Toppers led just once in the first 20 minutes as they got the first basket of the game on a Jessica Magley jumper. Williams answered with six unanswered points for ULM as the Warhawks would not trail the rest of the half, and were able to open up a lead as big as eight points in the period.

After falling down 14-7 with 11:41 remaining, WKU used an 8-1 run to pull even on a pair of Kenzie Rich free throws at the 8:04 mark. Freshman Caitlin House scored the first six points of that run, as she was the leading scorer for the Lady Toppers at intermission. After WKU pulled even, Louisiana-Monroe came back with a 10-2 run of its own to pull out to a 25-17 lead on a Lottie Moore three-point play at the 4:39 mark.

The Lady Toppers again fought back got get within a pair when a LaTeira Owens free throw made it a 27-25 game with a minute remaining, but Jordan Rawson got a basket on an offensive rebound in the closing seconds to send ULM to the locker room with a 29-25 lead.

WKU’s 70.6 percent shooting in the second half was a season high, as Hope Brown scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the second half. McNear also finished in double figures with 12 points. Williams and Carrier each scored 13 points to pace ULM, while Williams also added a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Lady Toppers return home Sunday at 2 p.m. (CST) to host South Alabama. That will be the "Pink Zone" game as WKU joins the WBCA to help raise breast cancer awareness.

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