Lady Toppers fall short in home opener against Ball State, ‘This was a winnable game’

Left: Ball State guard Sidney Freeman (11) falls to the court with Lady Toppers guard Myriah Haywood during WKU’s game against Ball state on Dec. 5. WKU fell to Ball State 58-54.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (0-2) fell to Ball State (1-3) by a score of 58-54. WKU’s home winning streak was snapped at 15 games. The streak began back on March 7, 2019 against Middle Tennessee State University winning 67-56. 

WKU had 24 turnovers against Ball State and shot 19-52 from the field. Junior Meral Abdelgawad hit the lone three-pointer today, the team was 1-15 from beyond the arch.

Lady Toppers head coach Greg Collins said that he was proud of the effort, but was not pleased with the overall execution.  

“You can’t turn the ball over 24 times and think you’re gonna beat anybody,” Collins said.

Collins also communicated his frustration both throughout the game on the sidelines and when addressing the press. 

“This was a winnable ball game,” Collins said. “You want to come away with these when you’re especially at home.” 

However, WKU was without a doubt a much better rebounding team today up until the fourth quarter.

“Up until the end, I felt like most of the game, we were leading the rebound battle,” Collins said.

The tip off went to Ball State, but WKU was the team to hit the first basket of the contest. 

The first quarter was a back and forth battle. The quarter ended with a tie game as both teams had 10 points on the board. Ball State went on a 7-0 run in the opening frame for five minutes. 

Senior Fatou Pouye had the first two buckets of the game and ended the first frame of play with six points. 

WKU managed to maintain the lead in the second quarter. The Lady Toppers did an impressive job at rebounding as they outrebounded Ball State 22-20. The respective programs combined were 17-57 from the field in the first half of play.

Abdelgawad had the most notable performance in the second quarter going forward as she drained a three pointer, hit a layup and drew a foul. Abdelgawad and Haywood were leading the charge for WKU with 6 points each.

There were moments where the young WKU team was rushing to the basket, which resulted in multiple turnovers.

Coach Collins was heard yelling, “Slow down!” from the sidelines as WKU turned over the ball four times since 4:17 in the quarter.

Despite WKU’s turnover mistakes, Ball State was unlucky with scoring as they were unable to score field goals since 4:07 in the quarter.

WKU’s halftime lead was due to solid performances from Abdelgawad, Haywood, and Pouye.

Abdelgawad had six points, four rebounds, and three steals. Pouye also had six points and three rebounds. Haywood had four points and four rebounds. 

Both teams were struggling with putting points on the board in the third quarter. With 5:50 left in the third quarter, only five points were scored by both teams.

However, the rest of the third quarter was a back and forth fight between both teams as the lead constantly switched. 

Junior Thelma Dis Agustsdottir drained a three-pointer for the Cardinals with 43 seconds left in the third frame to maintain the lead over the Lady Toppers. Ball State led 37-35 heading into the final frame.

In the fourth quarter, Freshman Hope Sivori scored her first bucket as a Lady Topper with 5:06 to play in the home opener bringing the game with one.

However, WKU was unable to consistently put points on the board as the Lady Toppers had a string of turnovers that allowed the Lady Cardinals to take a commanding lead.

WKU had a total of 24 turnovers over the course of the game and seven in the final frame of play against Ball State.

The Lady Toppers fell short to the Lady Cardinals at the end of regulation as they lost 58 to 54.

Abdelgawad had an impressive game as she had a total of 15 points, 10 rebounds, and five steals to keep the Lady Toppers in a close game.

Abdelgawad was aware that the team lacked focus on rebounds going into the fourth quarter. 

“I think we started to play hard,” Abdelgawad said. “The turnovers were really bad. I think coach Collins would focus on boxing out and getting rebounds more,” Abdelgawad said on what the team needs to work on in practice for their next matchup.

Abdelgawad also said she thought that the team could have shared the ball more. Abdelgawad said sharing the ball is another aspect of their performance that Coach Collins will work on with the team in practice.

Next up the Lady Toppers will play at Little Rock (1-1) on Dec. 13. The Trojans will play at home versus Vanderbilt this evening to open a three game homestand. 

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