Elgedawy, Givens Lead Big Lady Topper Rally Past UTEP, 64-61

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EL PASO, Texas (WBKO) --- Raneem Elgedawy and Dee Givens combined for 53 of WKU’s 64 points and the Lady Toppers rallied from a 12-point second-quarter deficit on Saturday afternoon inside the Don Haskins Center, scoring the final four points of the game to steal a 64-61 road victory over UTEP.

The fourth quarter of Saturday’s tilt featured four ties and five lead changes, the last of which came on Elgedawy’s hard-fought layup with just 10 seconds remaining. UTEP (4-18, 1-8 C-USA) had an opportunity to send the game to overtime, but Jade Rochelle’s three-pointer in the closing seconds did not find the mark as the Lady Toppers (14-9, 8-1 C-USA) held on for the win.

Elgedawy led all scorers and notched a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Givens chipped in 26 points that included the game-sealing free throws in the final seconds. Whitney Creech also enjoyed a solid outing, scoring six points while also dishing out six assists with three steals.

Cold shooting plagued the Lady Toppers in the winning effort as WKU shot just 23-of-58 (39.7 percent) from the floor and only 3-of-23 (13 percent) from beyond the arc. They made up the difference by forcing 23 UTEP turnovers, creating 25 points off those opportunities.

Katarina Zec (19 points) and Zuzanna Puc (17 points) combined for 36 of UTEP’s 61 points, and Puc picked up a double-double by adding 13 rebounds. The Miners could not fend off WKU’s comeback attempt despite shooting 52.5 percent (21-of-40) from the floor.

The Lady Toppers opened the game hot, scoring 12 of the contest’s first 14 points to build an early double-digit lead over the Miners. Givens, Elgedawy and Creech each scored four points during the run for WKU, and Givens’ jumper at the 4:56 mark built a 12-2 advantage just over five minutes into the game.

UTEP fired back by holding WKU scoreless over the remainder of the quarter, however, and used a 14-2 run that stretched into the second frame to take its first lead of the afternoon. Despite the long scoring drought, the Lady Toppers maintained their edge until Puc’s layup with 8:30 on the clock put the Miners up, 16-14. Givens immediately responded with a triple to retake the lead, but Zec’s fast-break bucket just a few seconds later put the Miners in front once again.

WKU’s deficit grew to as many as 12 points in the final minutes of the first half, but a Givens three-pointer that doubled as the final basket of the half cut UTEP’s lead to just six points, 36-30, heading into the locker room.

Neidy Ocuane scored the first basket of the third quarter before Elgedawy and Givens combined to score eight unanswered points for the Lady Toppers. Elgedawy knocked down three straight shots inside the paint, and Givens got a steal and a fast-break layup with 6:28 on the clock to knot the game at 38-38.

Though WKU briefly tied the game, UTEP used a 7-1 run over the next five minutes to rebuild its six-point edge that it would carry into the fourth quarter. Four different players scored during the run for the Miners, which was keyed by Puc’s triple; UTEP took a 47-41 lead into the final quarter of play.

A 7-0 run Lady Topper spanning three minutes early in the fourth quarter gave WKU its first lead since early in the second quarter. Elgedawy had four points, and Meral Abdelgawad capped the run with a three-point play at the 5:28 mark to put WKU in front, 50-49.

UTEP roared back, using a 9-3 run to take a five-point lead with just over three minutes left on the clock. Two free throws from Puc gave the Miners a 58-53 edge as the Lady Toppers looked to stage a late rally on the road.

That rally came in the form of an 11-3 burst over the final three minutes, with all 11 points coming from either Givens or Elgedawy. Two shots from the charity stripe for Givens with 36 seconds left gave WKU the lead before Ariona Gill’s layup with 15 seconds remaining re-established a 61-60 lead for UTEP.

Elgedawy’s layup off the inbounds play with 10 seconds left gave WKU a 62-61 lead, and UTEP turned the ball over on the ensuing possession to set up Givens’ final free throws. Rochelle’s desperation three-pointer for the Miners fell off target as WKU survived to claim the victory.

WKU will have a pivotal matchup against league leader Rice on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. inside E.A. Diddle Arena. The Owls are currently the lone undefeated team in league play this season, but the winner of Thursday’s matchup will have the inside track in the race for the C-USA regular season championship over the final month of the season. In the most recent matchup, Rice earned a 73-58 win over the Lady Toppers in Houston on Feb. 10, 2018, last season.



 
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