MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — A 20-2 Middle Tennessee run late in the game broke open an otherwise close contest as the Blue Raiders picked up a 79-57 win over the Lady Toppers Sunday afternoon at the Murphy Center.
The loss was the second straight for WKU as it fell 15-5 overall and 8-3 in Sun Belt Conference play. MTSU improved to 15-5 and 10-1 in league play.
The Lady Toppers were able to jump out to a quick 4-1 lead on a Alexis Govan layup at the 18:21, but WKU went nearly six-and-a-half minutes without a field goal as Middle Tennessee used a 15-2 run to storm out to a 16-6 lead on back-to-back Kortni Jones layups with 12:19 to go in the first half.
Govan broke the drought for WKU with a three with 11:54 on the clock. That would be as close as the Lady Toppers would get the rest of the half, however, as MTSU got 11 points from Jones during a 13-5 spurt to open up a 29-14 lead with 7:43 to go before halftime.
Jones led MTSU at the break with 14 points, going 8-for-10 at the free throw line.
The Blue Raider lead grew to 16 points when an Ebony Rowe layup made it a 37-21 game with 3:45 on the clock, but the Lady Toppers closed the half on a 12-4 run, getting back-to-back Chastity Gooch layup — including one as time expired — to cut the deficit to 41-33 at intermission.
Both Govan and Gooch finished the half with 14 points for the Lady Toppers, with Gooch scoring her 500th career point midway through the period.
The Blue Raider lead stretched back out to 11 points early in the second half, but an 8-0 Lady Topper run cut it to a 46-43 score on a Govan layup at the 14:23 mark. WKU had the ball with a chance to cut it to one, but a missed shot followed by a Rowe layup stopped the run and pushed the MTSU lead back to five points. The Blue Raiders scored seven unanswered to again stretch the lead to double figures with 11:17 remaining.
The Lady Toppers got as close as six points on three occasions — the last coming with 6:51 remaining. However, MTSU scored 20 of the next 22 points, holding WKU without a field goal for nearly seven minutes to end the game.
Govan finished with 26 points to pace the Lady Toppers, while Gooch posted her 17th double-double of the year with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Jones led all scorers with 28 points for Middle Tennessee, while Icelyn Elie tossed in 22 and Rowe added 13 points and 12 rebounds.
WKU returns home to E.A. Diddle Arena on Wednesday (Jan. 30) to face Troy at 7 p.m. The Lady Toppers picked up an 84-81 win over the Trojans back in early December when the teams met in Troy. Tickets for all Lady Topper home games are available through the WKU Ticket Office by calling 270-745-5222 or 1-800-5-BIG-RED. Tickets can also be ordered online at www.wkusports.com.
The Troy game is Faculty and Staff Day. All WKU faculty and staff can receive a complimentary reserved seat for the game at the WKU Box Office in E.A. Diddle Area prior to game day by showing a valid WKU ID. The offer is not valid on game day.
For complete coverage of WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit the official website of WKU Athletics at www.wkusports.com.