Lady Toppers split series against Florida Atlantic

At halftime, the Lady Toppers were down 42-30 against Florida Atlantic University. The two teams played in Diddle Arena on Saturday, Feb. 6.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (6-10), (5-5, C-USA) closed out their fifth Conference USA series Saturday night with a 75-70 loss to the Florida Atlantic Lady Owls (4-8), (2-6, C-USA).

“It wasn’t even about a percentage tonight, it’s about getting outrebounded,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “When they had more offensive rebounds than we had defensive rebounds. You don’t deserve to win, you didn’t work hard enough.”

Collins seemed visibly upset throughout the game when it came to rebounding.

“It still comes back to rebounding,” Collins said. “There were multiple possessions where they got multiple offensive rebounds.”

Senior Raneem Elgedawy dropped 27 points while grabbing 11 rebounds in the series finale against FAU. Graduate Iggy Allen paced the Lady Owls with 19 points to close out the series on Saturday evening.

“We didn’t play hard enough to win this game,” WKU junior Meral Abdelgawad said. “We didn’t fight today, I think we didn’t play hard enough.”

The Lady Toppers were 41% from the field whereas the Lady Owls were 38%. The Lady Owls beat the Lady Toppers 50-37 when it came to grabbing offensive rebounds and scored 24 points off of WKU turnovers, despite having one more turnover than WKU. WKU turned the ball over 19 times, whereas FAU had 20.

The opening tip off went to WKU as redshirt sophomore Myriah Haywood got the better touch on the ball. Senior Fatou Pouye grabbed the ball just before it went out of bounds. However, FAU would strike first as FAU graduate Iggy Allen would score an open layup 16 seconds into the first frame. 

Elgedawy would return fire at 7:29 with a layup and again at 7:12 to make it a tie game with four points each.

With 5:09 left in the first frame, Abdelgawad nailed a three pointer to give WKU the one point advantage.

By the 1:30 point, FAU had turned the ball over five times, and WKU used turnovers to go 3-of-3 from the field.

Unlike Friday evening’s game where WKU trailed FAU 21-8 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Toppers would lead FAU 19-16 at the end of the first frame.

FAU’s Allen would drain a triple at 9:07 in the second quarter to tie the game. By 8:17, Allen made a jumper to give FAU the lead. However, Haywood would return fire by nailing a three of her own as time expired from the shot clock at 7:24 to put WKU back ahead of FAU.

By 1:45, a WKU timeout was called as the Lady Toppers were down by seven. FAU held WKU scoreless for the last 3:01 of the second frame as FAU went on a 10-0 run. WKU trailed the Lady Owls 42-30 going into the locker room.

By the end of the first two frames of play, Haywood had nine points and one rebound to lead the Lady Toppers. Behind Haywood was Abdelgawad who had seven points and four rebounds.

The Lady Toppers were 41% from the field, which was lower than their opponents, who were 50% from the field. FAU also led WKU in rebounding as they were winning 20-13 on rebounds. Both teams had nine turnovers.

“Fouls, Raneem Elgedawy had to go to the bench, and then you saw the team we had before Raneem got here, and we really struggled to score,” Collins said about his team’s performance.

The third frame started off with a steal by Abdelgawad and a quick layup at 9:51. At 6:25, Elgedawy managed to make a layup and draw the foul to WKU within five of FAU. By 5:55, WKU had been on a 7-0 run. With 4:59 on the clock, WKU had gone 3-of-3 from the field whereas FAU had gone 1-of-8 from the field.

With 3:00 on the clock, WKU trailed by two points, but a last minute effort by FAU would put them back ahead by 10 points. In the last minute, WKU managed to trim that lead down and at the buzzer, Sivori would drill a three. WKU trailed FAU 59-55 at the end of the third quarter.

FAU would get the first basket of the quarter as Allen made a jumper at 9:35. WKU would not score in the quarter until Elgedawy would sink two free throws at 7:34. With 5:00 minutes left, WKU trailed FAU 68-58.

At 3:43, Elgedawy would make a lay up to put WKU within eight points of a tie-game. With around three minutes remaining in regulation, WKU Collins called a timeout to make some final adjustments.

However, with one minute remaining, FAU redshirt sophomore Janeta Rozentale went 2-of-2 from the line to give FAU the eight point advantage. However with 18.9 left on the clock, WKU freshman Ally Collett would drill a three to give WKU hope, but they still trailed by six points.

With five seconds on the clock, Sivori drilled a three pointer to put WKU within three of FAU. WKU would foul FAU to send them to the line but they would make both free throws. 

WKU would fall short at home to close out the weekend and would split the series 1-1 with a 75-70 loss to FAU.

The Lady Toppers will be on the road in Houston, Texas, to take on the Rice Lady Owls at Tudor Fieldhouse next weekend. Tip off is at 2 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

Women’s basketball beat reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.