Murfreesboro, Tenn. — Alysha Clark scored a Murphy Center record 45 points and added 12 rebounds to lead Middle Tennessee to an 87-61 win over the Western Kentucky University women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams.
With the loss, the Lady Toppers fall to 16-12 and 10-8 in Sun Belt Conference play entering the postseason. WKU’s seed for the upcoming Sun Belt Tournament will be determined following the conclusion of the Denver-North Texas matchup being played late this afternoon. A Pioneer win would make the Lady Toppers the #7 seed in the tournament, while a DU loss would give WKU the #6 seed. Either way, the Lady Toppers will meet Louisiana-Monroe in the first round of the tournament Wednesday (March 5) at 7 p.m. (CST) at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Middle Tennessee — which had already wrapped up the top seed in the tournament — improved to 25-5 and 17-1 in league play.
The Lady Toppers were able to jump out to an early lead, thanks to Amy McNear, who scored eight of WKU’s first 11 points as they jumped out to an 11-6 lead on a pair of McNear free throws. MTSU hit just one of its first seven shots, but caught fire when Chelsia Lymon knocked down her first three at the 15:10 mark to cut the Lady Topper lead to four. In fact, Lymon hit three straight from long range, with the third giving the Blue Raiders their first lead of the game at 15-13 with 12:22 remaining.
Lymon finished with 14 points in the half, while Alysha Clark went into the locker room with a game-best 18 points. McNear scored 11 points for WKU in the period.
MTSU went on to shoot 51.4 percent from the field in the first half, and knocked down six three pointers, as it quickly erased an early seven-point deficit and took a double-digit lead when Lymon’s fourth three of the half made it a 29-18 game midway through the period. WKU would only get as close as nine points the rest of the half as the Blue Raiders stormed out to a half-best 20-point lead late in the period, and got a Dana Garrett jumper right before the buzzer to take a 48-28 lead into the locker room at intermission.
Despite the deficit, WKU was able to shoot 50 percent in the first half, but were limited to 15 less shots and eight less made field gals than the Blue Raiders in the period.
Clark scored 28 of her 45 points in the second half, finishing the period 10-for-15 from the field and 7-for-7 at the free throw line. The Middle Tennessee lead never fell below 18 points the rest of the game, despite 42.9 percent shooting by the Lady Toppers in the half. Brown — who finished the game with a career-high 21 points to lead WKU in scoring — scored 13 in the second half. However, MTSU saw its lead grow as high as 28 points in the closing minutes.
In addition to Brown’s career-high effort, McNear finished with 12 before going to the bench midway through the first half with an injury. LaTeira Owens also came off the bench to drop in 10 points. Lymon and Anne Marie Lanning joined Clark in double figures for MTSU with 16 and 10, respectively.