Lady Toppers claim first sweep over Charlotte

Western Kentucky university lady Hilltoppers fought a tough battle against the Charlotte 49ers as the lady Hilltoppers as western Kentucky’s Fatou Pouye (12) and Charlotte’s Molina Williams (24) scrap for the loose ball. Lady Hilltoppers would go on the pick up the win 65-64.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (5-9), (4-4, C-USA) swept its series against the Lady 49ers (5-6), (4-2, C-USA) winning 65-64 on Saturday evening just one night removed from a historic triple overtime affair winning 100-99. 

“Charlotte is I think is probably the second or third best team in this conference,” head coach Greg Collins said. “I don’t think that puts us at that same level, but we were this weekend.”

WKU remains undefeated 15-0 when playing in Diddle Arena against Charlotte. 

“The sweep really built up our confidence,” redshirt sophomore Myriah Haywood said. “In the first couple of games in the season we just weren’t doing well and today just built up our confidence.” 

Senior Raneem Elgedawy paced all scorers on the floor Saturday leading the way dropping 20 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. 

“We had a lot of energy coming into this game,” freshman Hope Sivori said. “We had that chip on our shoulder. [Charlotte] was in our home gym and they haven’t won here. This wasn’t going to be the time they won in Diddle.” 

Elgedawy won the opening tip off and WKU senior Fatou Pouye laid in the ball to give WKU the first points of the game. WKU continued scoring early as they would go on a 6-0 run before Charlotte would break its silence at 7:55 with two free throws from Charlotte senior Mariah Linney.

After WKU started off the game with a 6-0 run, Charlotte junior Jazmin Harris scored a layup to make it a one point game with 5:25 left in the first frame. By 3:16, Charlotte managed to on a 9-0 run over the last 3:10. WKU was 1-of-9 from the field and had turned the ball over four times in the last three minutes of play.

Junior Meral Abdelgawad broke WKU’s scoring drought with 1:33 remaining in the quarter as she grabbed a rebound and put it up and in. Charlotte freshman Molina Williams made three free throws for Charlotte at the end of the first frame to give Charlotte a 16-14 advantage.

To begin the second quarter Elgedawy made a jumper to tie the game at 16. However, WKU would struggle to score for the next 2:07. By 4:54, WKU freshman Hope Sivori would knock down her second shot of the night to make it a four point game. 

“We’re becoming more consistent,” Collins said. “On defense we’re more aware of what’s going on. On offense, we’re settling down. We’re showing a lot more composure.”

Rounding out the first half Elgedawy would knock down a jumper at 1:02 to keep WKU in the game. Then she would knock another bucket with 6 seconds left in the quarter to end the quarter trailing their Charlotte 33-29.

Charlotte controlled the boards, out rebounding WKU 24-20 in the first half. Although WKU outscored the Lady 49ers in the paint 20-14 and maintained their aggressiveness, swiping seven steals. Both teams struggled from deep as WKU was 1-of-12 from beyond the arc while Charlotte was 2-of-13.

By the half, Pouye led the Lady Toppers in scoring with 10 points. Junior Jada Mcmillian was leading the Lady 49ers with 11 points by the half. 

The third quarter started off slow as neither team scored until Elgedawy went 1-of-2 from the free throw line and scored off the rebound with 8:20 on the clock. Elgedawy would also go to the line with 6:50 on the clock after drawing a foul. Elgedawy would go 2-of-2 from the line to put WKU within one of Charlotte. 

Elgedawy would hit a jumper at 6:15 to give WKU a one point advantage. With 4:32 left, Sivori would drill a three pointer to put WKU within two of Charlotte. With 3:04 left, Elgedawy put through another jumper to put WKU one away from a tie game. 

At the 1:37 point of the third frame, freshman Ally Collett layed it up and in to give WKU the advantage. With 35.8 seconds on the clock, WKU junior Meral Abdelgawad drew the foul to go to the free throw line. Abdelgawad would go 2-of-2. However a last minute shot from Charlotte left WKU trailing 47-46 at the end of the third frame.

Sivori would drive through the lane and draw the foul at 9:40 in the fourth quarter drawing a foul and would go hit both free throws to give WKU the lead 48-47. Following the free throws, Haywood drove to the basket on a fast break sinking the layup.

By the 6:25 mark, Sivori would nail a three to put WKU up 55-52. Linney erased the momentum triple from WKU with a triple of her own to knot it back up at 55. However, at 5:42, Elgedawy would take a fall and go to the bench as she turned the ball over. 

“I think she got an elbow to the nose”, Collins said. “And when she first went down, she was off balance. I don’t know if anything was intentional, I haven’t seen that film. She just fell.”

Haywood would knock down another jumper at 3:23 to give WKU the three point advantage. And by 2:40, Elgedawy would return to the game at 2:40, as she subbed in for Collett. With 1:44 left in regulation, both teams were tied 62-62 as a timeout was called.

“It for one shows how tough Raneem is,” Haywood said when seeing Elgedawy come back after going down in the final quarter. “While she was out it was on us to defend and keep the score where it was just in case she came back and did what she needed to do.” 

With 39.0 seconds on the clock, WKU called a timeout as they trailed by two. Raneem Elgedawy would drill a three following the timeout to give WKU the lead with just 30 seconds left in the game. Charlotte called a timeout with 19.7 seconds left in regulation. Charlotte’s shot would roll around the rim, only to fall out at the buzzer to give WKU a clean sweep of Charlotte.

“Extremely important, like so important,” Sivori said, speaking about the sweep and the importance of building confidence. “We know we’re getting better every single day, and it really helps our confidence to keep building when we finally see it in games.” 

The Lady Toppers will take on the Florida Atlantic Lady Owls next weekend at home. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. for both Friday and Saturday’s matchups.

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