Lady Toppers split C-USA play for second week, Elgedawy returns on home court

Junior Meral Abdelgawad (40) showing support to redshirt freshman Tori Hunter (21) on Jan. 17, 2021 in Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers took down Marshall 69-60 to split the series. 

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (3-7), (2-2, C-USA) took the 69-60 win over the Marshall Lady Thundering Herd (3-5), (2-4, C-USA) in Diddle Arena on Sunday afternoon after playing Marshall on the road this past Thursday. 

“Toughness on defense, a lot of grit, and just getting after it on defense,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “I was real proud of our toughness and grit.”

Collins said that the team’s chemistry hasn’t come together yet, but it is improving.

“We’ve got great chemistry off the court,” Collins said. “Right now they’re still learning how to get that chemistry on the court. Each game there are moments for the positive and the negative”

Senior Raneem Elgedawy made her return debut in Diddle Arena and was in the starting lineup. Elgedawy had an excellent first half performance as she scored 11 points and grabbed two rebounds in the 14 minutes of court time she received in the first two frames of play.

Elgedawy was the most notable Lady Topper on the court as she dropped 20 points and 5 rebounds. Junior Meral Abdelgawad was the second highest scorer as she had 16 points and seven rebounds.

“It was hard because they came back in the game,” Abdelgawad said. “We were thinking, we need to get Raneem the ball because she’s good inside.”

The Lady Toppers were a far more fierce team at home as they outrebounded Marshall 36-30 and managed to have 19 turnovers. Marshall had 21 turnovers. WKU was also shooting at a 43% accuracy rate from field goal range. Marshall was 40% accurate.

WKU won the tipoff and started off strong as they would sink several three pointers to take the lead. Marshall kept the game close, but WKU was 75% from the field and was on a 9-0 run by the 4:53 mark of the quarter.

WKU ended the first quarter with a commanding seven point lead as Marshall was 0-of-6 from field goal range. WKU was 47% from field goal range by the end of the first quarter, whereas Marshall was 33%. WKU led Marshall 22-15.

By 8:27 of the second quarter, Marshall turned the ball over for the sixth time and WKU would score another two points to extend their lead. Both teams had six turnovers at this point in the match.

Freshman Hope Sivori would drop a three pointer at the 6:54 mark of the game to extend the Lady Toppers lead to eight points. However, by 4:35 of the quarter, both teams would be on scoring droughts.

Near the end of the second quarter, WKU was still leading but by not as much. Marshall made a few adjustments to make the game closer. By halftime, WKU led Marshall 32-27.

WKU outrebounded Marshall 19-17 and had seven offensive rebounds in the first half. Marshall had six offensive rebounds and was turning the ball over more than Thursday’s performance. Marshall had 10 turnovers in the first two frames of play, whereas WKU had nine.

In the second quarter, both teams were also having scoring issues as WKU was unable to score from field goal range for the last 7:15 of the quarter. Marshall also had issues scoring for the last 3:11 of the quarter.

Marshall struck first in the third as they cut the lead down to one at the 9:17 mark of the quarter. However, Abdelgawad would return fire and put WKU up by three. Elgedawy would follow up and drain another three pointer to extend the lead.

Both Abdelgawad and Elgedawy were carrying the offense for WKU as the Lady Toppers were four of their last five from field goal range. By 3:40 of the quarter, Marshall had managed to make it close once again as they sank a three pointer to make it a four point game.

By 1:51, Abdelgawad drove through the lane and put up another two points. WKU then led by five points. The score would remain unchanged until the end of the quarter. WKU led 44-39.

WKU started strong in the fourth quarter by extending the lead to nine by 9:19. 

Then by 4:15, Marshall made it a two point game. WKU would eventually be trailing Marshall by one point, but the Lady Toppers made adjustments and nailed a few shots to take an eight point lead over Marshall with less than a minute of time left in regulation. 

The Lady Toppers would finish the game with a nine point lead to take down Marshall.

The Lady Toppers will host the Middle Tennessee State University Lady Blue Raiders in Diddle Arena this upcoming Friday and Saturday with both games slated for 6 p.m.

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