"We had our moments in the beginning, but coach let us know that this was our game and we weren't going to lose. We came here to survive and advance." -WKU guard Bianca McGee.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. -- It wasn't easy, but the Lady Toppers won their first game of the Sun Belt Tournament Saturday afternoon 61-57. Louisiana-Lafayette gave WKU all they had in the form of 3-pointers; but in the end it wouldn't be enough. The Ragin' Cajuns shot 5-7 from three in the first nine minutes of the game but finished the first half 5-14. They never quite got back on track from range but they certainly kept firing. They shot 2-14 from behind the arc in the second half, leaving their total at 7-28 for 25% for the game. Despite the low percentage, the team's quick start shell shocked the Lady Toppers in the first half, but WKU was still able to claw back for the victory.
"I'm just really proud of my ball club. For Bianca to go eight for eight at the end of the game was just crucial for us. I feel like we got a monkey off our back. Sometimes you get a bye and then you come and sit and watch. It can be an advantage. We got our jitters out after the first six, seven, eight minutes, then we started to play Lady Hilltopper basketball." said Coach Michelle Clark-Heard.
Besides the 3-pointers raining for the Ragin' Cajuns in the first nine minutes, the game's other story was the clutch performance of Bianca McGee. McGee was fouled with just over a minute left in the game with the score at 53-51, advantage Lady Toppers. She calmly stepped to the line and sank both shots. From that point on, it was as if the ball gravitated to McGee and once she was fouled, it gravitated to the net. She went to the line three more times with less than one minute left in the game. Each time the lead was two points, and each time she extended it back to four.
"We had our moments in the beginning but coach let us know that this was our game and we weren't going to lose. We came here to survive and advance." stated a still very calm, Bianca McGee.
"After she hit those first two I said, "You're getting the ball every time." She's always been clutch." commented Chaney Means.
If the Lady Toppers hope to run the table through the finals, they may need McGee to step up her scoring alongside Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch.
"When you look back at those games where we've been able to have all three of them in double figures, most of the time we've won." stated Coach Clark-Heard.
Once the 3-pointers stopped falling in the first half, WKU stormed back to cut into the deficit. With two minutes to go in the period, Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch scored back to back layups to bring the score within four; which is where it stayed at the half. Once the second period began it was only a short matter of time before the Lady Toppers were able to wear down their opponent, who needed double overtime to win the day before. Govan hit a free throw and a subsequent layup to give the Hilltoppers their first lead of the afternoon. WKU kept the lead for most of the game after that point yet charge calls against the team kept the game close. At times, Coach Clark-Heard paced to the end of the bench and back with a very controlled expression, as to not incite a whistle from the referee. Despite the controversial calls and the slow starts from their two leading scorers, WKU was able to come out on top. Bianca McGee scored a team high 20 points and Alexis Govan was able to contribute with 15.
The Lady Toppers face Arkansas-Little Rock, Sunday at 2:30 p.m. for a shot at the conference title game.