BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) --- After a tight game through the first quarter of play, WKU outscored Bellarmine by 32 points over the final 30 minutes and finished with five scorers in double figures in a 95-57 victory inside E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Dee Givens led all scorers with 22 points for the Lady Toppers (5-6), who won their third straight game after a full week off the court since their last outing. Alexis Brewer knocked down five three-pointers and finished with 19 points, Raneem Elgedawy tallied 15 points and both Meral Abdelgawad (13) and Sherry Porter (10) rounded out the WKU group in double figures.
“It would be hard to play any more consistently than how Dee’s been playing. Some of the most impressive things isn't just the shooting percentage or the points. Maybe the most impressive thing she does is bring a high level of energy on the defensive end almost every possession. She makes mistakes like everybody else does, but last year I said that the great thing about Dee is that she'll fly in there and get one spectacular rebound and the bad thing about Dee is that she'll fly in there and get one spectacular rebound,” Head Coach Greg Collins said. “But now she does that almost every possession. She's the one that brings some energy on the defensive end and so we feed off of that and we need that so we can go out there and get those balls and get out and get running.”
WKU had its best shooting afternoon of the season, knocking down 33 of its 60 shots (55.0 percent) for the game. The Lady Toppers held Bellarmine to just 42.1 percent (24-of-57) from the field, including a 4-of-16 mark in the final quarter.
Katie Downey led the Knights (5-1) with 10 points on the day. Saturday’s game was scored as an exhibition for Bellarmine due to their status as an NCAA Division II member.
Neither side was able to gain much separation over the first five minutes of play, with WKU jumping ahead by five points but Bellarmine cutting back into the deficit each time. Six straight points from the Lady Toppers finally helped WKU to pull away as Elgedawy, Givens and Porter each chipped in two points during the stretch.
In the second quarter, the Knights again climbed within four points of the Lady Toppers on three different occasions, the last coming on a Mallory Schwartz layup at the 5:27 mark. From that point, however, WKU took over for the remainder of the quarter, holding Bellarmine to a single point to seize control of the contest.
A pair of three-pointers by Brewer and six points from Givens keyed the 14-1 run for the Lady Toppers, who carried a 46-29 lead into the halftime break.
Bellarmine cut WKU’s lead to 15 points on a pair of free throws to open the third quarter, but the Lady Toppers did not allow the Knights any closer over the final 20 minutes. WKU scored 16 of the next 20 points to take a 62-35 lead with 6:06 on the clock. Although Bellarmine was able to trim the lead back to 20 points with a 9-0 run, Brewer scored the final five points of the frame to push the lead back to 25.
Over the final quarter of play, WKU used a 10-2 midway through the quarter to go up by 30 points, and the Lady Toppers scored eight of the final nine points of the game, buoyed by two three-point plays from Abdelgawad, to claim the 95-57 decision.
“Part of the reason we scheduled Bellarmine to play today was to avoid an even longer layoff. The schedule worked out in such a way that to fill the schedule late in the season, we didn't have a whole lot of flexibility, and I surely didn't want to go 13 or 14 days without playing,” Collins said. “I appreciate Coach [Chancellor] Dugan coming down and playing because Bellarmine was able to play on this date and that helped us break up this long break in between our next game and our last game.”
WKU will have another long layoff with Saturday’s game in the books; the Lady Toppers will not return to action until Sunday, Dec. 16, at 5 p.m. when WKU welcomes Ball State to Diddle Arena. That matchup will be the second half of a doubleheader, with the Hilltopper basketball team squaring off against Troy earlier in the afternoon at 2 p.m.