Haywood claims first double-double, Lady Toppers complete comeback against FAU

Lady Topper senior forward Fatou Pouye (12) attempts to score a basket against Florida Atlantic in Diddle Arena on Feb. 5, 2021. WKU won 71-64.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (6-9), (5-4, C-USA) hosted the Florida Atlantic Lady Owls (3-8), (1-6, C-USA) for their fifth Conference USA series of the season. WKU made a comeback after being down 21-3 at the end of the first quarter to take down the Lady Owls 71-64. 

WKU extends its winning streak to three games ahead of its next game Saturday. 

“They came out and they were swinging with both fists,” head coach Greg Collins said of FAU. “We didn’t match that intensity and it rocked us back on our heels. We had to match their style of play and then fix the turnovers.” 

Collins said he was proud of how his team adjusted tonight and was additionally proud of how the Lady Toppers flipped the script in the second quarter to match FAU’s intensity.  

Redshirt sophomore Myriah Haywood took charge under the lights of John Oldham Court Friday evening, dropping a career-high 17 points and 12 rebounds notching her first career double-double as a Lady Topper. 

“Her poise on the floor has continued to improve,” Collins said. “Her shot selection was really good. Her decisions on whether to pass or move the ball was pretty strong. The most exciting part was her flying over the [rebounds], and there were times she was getting rebounds nobody else was.” 

The opening tipoff landed in the hands of senior Fatou Pouye to give WKU the first possession, and she went to the line after drawing an early foul. Pouye shot 1-of-2 on the charity stripe. However, FAU sophomore Allie Tylka received a pass from graduate Iggy Allen, which she would use to drain the first three-point shot of the game and give FAU the 3-1 lead in the first moments.

With 6:24 left in the opening frame, WKU had turned the ball over five times in the last 3:48, which FAU had taken advantage of by going on an 11-0 run. 

By 3:30, WKU had still not scored and trailed their opponents by 17 points as FAU had extended their run to 18. However, with three minutes left in the first frame, WKU senior Raneem Elgedawy ended the scoring drought by sinking a layup to make it 18-3 FAU. 

The Lady Owls went on a scoring drought in the last 2:47 of the quarter and were 1-of-9 but still led WKU 21-8 at the end of the opening quarter. 

To begin the second quarter, WKU freshman Ally Collett started off by knocking down a triple to give WKU the first points of the frame. FAU’s Allen had achieved 10 points, five rebounds, and two assists less than a minute into the second quarter. WKU began to crawl out of its first quarter hole, scoring nine points in the first 1:55 making it 23-17 FAU. 

“Lock her in the hotel room,” Collins said of Allen’s career night against the Lady Toppers. “She’s a tough guard, and we’ll have to go back and watch film and see what we can do better.” 

With 5:46 left, Collett hyped up the crowd by making a layup and drawing the foul. At 4:07, junior Meral Abdelgawad got a steal and made a layup to put WKU within four. 

Pouye scored the final bucket of the first half with 43 seconds to head into the locker room knotted up with FAU 28-28. Haywood and Collett led WKU scorers with eight each and FAU’s Allen had 13 points. 

Haywood reached a new career high in rebounds with eight at the break. The Edwardsville, Illinois, native scored a combined 24 points coming into Friday evening’s contest following the Charlotte series. 

“Just to keep going, keep everybody going,” Haywood said about her career-best performance. “Just like the Charlotte game, I wanted to keep the same energy, same consistency.” 

WKU was 33% from deep at the sound of the buzzer to conclude the first half. The Lady Toppers turned the ball over 18 times compared to the Lady Owls’ eight. FAU had 13 points off of those turnovers as well.

Haywood would break the ice to start the third quarter by hitting a jumper to give WKU the two-point lead at 9:25. Four minutes later, FAU was 0-of-5 and WKU had extended their lead to four points.

By 3:17, FAU was 2-of-9 from the field, but by 2:28, a six-point effort by Allen put FAU within one of WKU 40-39. However, WKU would continue their offensive strike on FAU as Haywood sank one from deep to give WKU a 47-42 advantage at the end of the third frame. 

Haywood’s triple prior to the third quarter buzzer gave her a new career high in points, eclipsing 14 from the week before against Charlotte.

“Myriah [Haywood] took that challenge to guard [Iggy Allen] and she’s a tough guard,” Collins said of Haywood’s play on Allen. “Myriah [Haywood] wanted a challenge and did a good job, I still think we could have done a better job than we did.” 

The Lady Owls struck first in the final frame as FAU sophomore Nikola Ozola put two on the board at 9:38. FAU redshirt sophomore Janeta Rozentale would hit another shot to put FAU within one at 9:13. 

With 5:49 left on the clock, FAU trailed WKU by only three points. However, Collett changed that at 4:02 when she dropped a three pointer. With 41.7 seconds left, WKU led FAU 65-59 as FAU called a timeout before they would get the ball for a final push against WKU.

Freshman Hope Sivori was fouled by FAU’s Alexa Zaph and went to the line with 33 seconds remaining in regulation. She sank both to extend the Lady Toppers’ lead to 67-61. A sloppy last minute effort from FAU resulted in two fast breaks that turned into points for WKU. 

Abdelgawad iced the game with 10 seconds remaining off a layup to cap off the Lady Toppers 71-64 win to start the weekend. 

“We have to be careful that we don’t over-emphasize one player,” Collins said when it came to preparing for the game Saturday night.

The Lady Toppers will tip off the second game of the series against FAU tomorrow night at 6 p.m. in Diddle Arena. 

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