Lady Toppers take down FIU opening weekend series, Pouye drops 23 on Lady Panthers

Western Kentucky University Lady Topper Fatou Pouye (12) communicates the game plan to Raneem Elgedawy (15).

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (7-12), (6-7, C-USA) traveled to Miami to take on the FIU Panthers (10-11), (7-8, C-USA) for their second-to-last conference matchup of the season. 

WKU came out on top 66-56 over the Lady Panthers to snap a three-game losing streak. 

“I was really happy with the focus that this group had on the floor tonight,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “Overall, I thought we really did a good job.”

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WKU senior Fatou Pouye had quite the performance, dropping 23 points and seven rebounds to break her previous career high of 21 points.

“We were just moving the ball, helping each other,” Pouye said. “We were just moving the ball and then just trying to get the best shot.”

After an extremely quiet first two quarters, WKU senior Raneem Elgedawy managed to end the game with 16 points and eight rebounds.

“She was open,” Collins said about Pouye’s performance. “Fatou’s a good shooter and the difference between her scoring and not scoring is not getting her involved in the offense, it’s her pulling the trigger.”

The opening tip off went to FIU, but junior Alma Danielsson turned the ball over. At 8:37, graduate Ekpiteta Emerald knocked down the first shot of the game. Junior Meral Abdelgawad hit a three pointer to give WKU a 3-2 lead. 

At 6:20, Pouye had five points and the Lady Toppers went on a 11-0 run. By 4:54, FIU had only added one point to the board as WKU led 14-3. FIU had four turnovers and had been held scoreless for the past 3:55 of the first quarter.

The Lady Toppers had an explosive first frame of play, causing eight turnovers and led the Panthers 18-9 by the end of the first frame.

FIU made adjustments going into the second frame, making it a four-point game when senior Kyla Nelson put another two points on the board after drilling a three pointer. A few moments later, Elgedawy drew a foul and made the layup to go to the line. Elgedawy converted the three-point play extending WKU’s lead to 21-14.

With 6:11 left in the first half, WKU led by eight points as Pouye was unstoppable with 15 points. Pouye was also five of her last five before the break. At 3:48, both teams had been on scoring droughts. With 3:10 remaining, WKU managed to break the drought as Abdelgawad would make a layup off another FIU turnover.

However, by 1:09, FIU started to come back. Sophomore Fujika Nimmo made a layup to make it a two-point game. Nimmo knocked down a three with 45 seconds left on the clock to give FIU the advantage and an 11-0 run. This put FIU up 33-32 over WKU.

“Bad shots,” Collins said. “That’s what allowed them to take a lead at halftime.”

By halftime, the Lady Toppers best scorer was Pouye, who dropped 15 points and had two rebounds. The Lady Topper’s next best scorer was Abdelgawad, who had seven points and three rebounds.

Elgedawy had a surprisingly quiet first two frames as she had three points by halftime. 

The Lady Toppers were 38% from the field while FIU were shooting 48% from the field. The Lady Toppers had 12 turnovers, and the Panthers had 13. Both WKU and FIU had 17 rebounds.

At the start of the third quarter, Haywood hit a shot to give WKU a one-point lead. Elgedawy made a layup to extend the lead to six over FIU, but it would not last. FIU graduate Jiselle Thomas would make back-to-back layups to give FIU a 37-36 advantage over the Lady Toppers. 

By 5:03, WKU had a one-point lead over FIU after Elgedawy hit a jumper. FIU couldn’t make shots while they were 0-of-5 from the field. At the end of the third frame, FIU pressured WKU on offense and took a 45-43 lead.

The fourth quarter started with a three pointer by Pouye at 9:46 to give WKU the advantage. With six minutes remaining, Pouye knocked down another three pointer to put the Lady Toppers up 55-51. The Panthers were 0-of-4. At 5:14, Haywood hit a three pointer to put WKU up by seven and to give WKU a 6-0 run.

With 3:21 left in the fourth, Pouye had practically solidified the victory with another three pointer to give WKU a 10 point advantage. The Lady Toppers would stay in the lead to take down the Panthers in game one with a 66-56 win.

“This week, we’ve really focused on working on our defense,” Pouye said. “We realize in order to win the game, we have to stop them from making shots.”

The Lady Toppers will return to FIU Arena tomorrow at 3 p.m.

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