Confident Lady Toppers beat MTSU to earn first-spherical tournament bye
Western Kentucky knew what became at stake to close the final three video games of the normal season. The Lady Toppers had to grind out avenue victories at North Texas and Marshall, needing beyond regular time for certainly one of them to install every other pivotal meeting with rival Middle Tennessee.
WKU saved its exceptional Conference USA ordinary-season day out for the ultimate in a sixty-seven-fifty-six win against the Lady Raiders on Thursday to fasten up a first-round bye in subsequent week’s C-USA Tournament.
The Lady Toppers (17-thirteen usual, 11-5 C-USA) pulled far away from MTSU (20-nine, 11-five) as a small lead blew as much as a 15-point sport in the fourth region with one in all WKU’s maximum efficiently sustained defensive efforts this season.
“Most, in reality, I suppose we had superb shielding depth that we’ve lacked the beyond few video games,” WKU shield Whitney Creech stated. “We just stepped it up at the shielding cease, and that’s what carried us this sport. Our defense created our offense for us tonight.”
WKU outscored MTSU 16-9 and held it to 2-of-9 from the field in the fourth quarter. The Lady Toppers settled into a stout half-courtroom defense and took away MTSU’s possibilities to score around the rim.
In their final assembly on Feb. 14 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., MTSU scored relaxed with layups that brought about 40 points in the paint and a school-file sixty-six percentage clip from the sector.
The Lady Toppers reversed that benefit with the aid of outscoring MTSU 40-26 in the paint and conserving MTSU’s leading scorers Alex Johnson and Jordan Majors to 27 combined factors.
“It’s truly the great half-courtroom defensive attempt,” WKU instruct Greg Collins stated. “We’ve had some good complete-courtroom protecting efforts wherein we created plenty of turnovers and got in transition. We have been pressing a few this night now not simply to get a turnover, but to move the ball to exclusive players and get in a unique spot.”
The win ended the everyday season on an excessive word ahead of the postseason next week in Frisco, Texas. WKU lost 4 straight with 3 video games to head, which positioned it in must-win recreation modes, an excellent way to secure a primary-round bye inside the match. WKU’s win against a top-four C-USA group way it’s going to have Wednesday to analyze their opponent for the quarterfinals Thursday at 11:30 a.M. At The Star.
“It’s huge,” Dee Givens stated on earning the primary-round bye. “Some of us are virtually worn-out. We played various minutes in the normal season, so educate constantly says it’s hard to win 4 games in 4 days to win a championship. That first-spherical bye is actually important.”
Givens led WKU in scoring with 16 factors. She turned into aided with the aid of the recent scoring surge by Creech, who poured in 15 elements on 7-of-11 shooting with four assists and no turnovers in 38 mins.
A 9-zero run in the first zone helped WKU preserve a lead in the complete first half. WKU led 16-10 after one district and stretched it to an eleven-factor point to start the second quarter on a Givens’ 3-pointer and Creech layup. Creech’s short turnaround jumper to conquer the buzzer pushed WKU’s result in 37-30 at halftime. Turning up the strain within the first half helped WKU make 12 points out of eight turnovers through MTSU.
Anna Jones’ triple with 1:05 left inside the 0.33 quarter helped MTSU reduce WKU’s cause forty nine-47. However, Creech delivered some other buzzer-beating score to make it a -possession game going into the fourth region. WKU took off from that point and went on any other 9-0 run to open the very last frame. Meral Abdelgawad’s 2nd three-pointer of the sector pushed WKU’s cause 15 spots with 5: forty-five left. Eight of WKU’s factors in the fourth area came off turnovers.
“Just everybody stayed focused,” Givens stated. “Ten-point lead or a five-factor lead, it didn’t count. Everyone stayed targeted and simply attempted to get the process accomplished.” Creech’s 15 factors accompanied up a sixteen-factor day out at North Texas wherein she said Collins sat her inside the first sector and stressed the team’s need for her to start scoring. Before that night time, Creech’s season-excessive was 12 points. She’s eclipsed that mark the last games earlier than the C-USA Tournament.
“These ultimate games I just tried to be greater aggressive because they’re giving me photographs, and I simply take them and knock them down,” Creech stated. “Once I start to score, it’s going to open the entirety else up as nicely. Scoring goes to assist our offense all around.”
WKU’s win secured its No. Four seed in the C-USA Tournament. No. 1 Rice, No. 2 UAB, and No. Three Middle Tennessee is ahead of the Lady Toppers.
Greg Collins is now 17-13, familiar as WKU’s head coach. … WKU finished the everyday season eleven-5 in Conference USA play and 9-6 at E.A. Diddle Arena. … WKU has gained seven of the closing 9 inside the series with MTSU. However, the Lady Raiders lead the general collection forty two-32. … Picked fourth inside the preseason C-USA poll, WKU finished tied for 0.33 area. WKU has met or exceeded its preseason placement the past three years. … WKU shot 50 percent from the field Thursday (26-of-fifty two); it’s the 13th time this season, hitting at least half its shots. WKU is 10-3 while taking pictures at the least 50 percent. … Announced attendance becomes 1,823, making WKU’s average attendance at E.A. Diddle Arena for eight video games this season at 1,500, the lowest since the 2012-13 season.