Lady Toppers welcome Ball State for 2020-21 home opener, aim for first win

Sophomore Guard Meral Abdelgawad (40) dribbles up the court in response to a turnover by the white team during Hilltopper Hysteria on Oct. 17th, 2019 in Diddle Arena.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (0-1) are scheduled to continue their 2020-2021 season at home this Saturday against Ball State (0-3). Head coach Greg Collins addressed the media prior to the home opener. 

“We’re about as healthy as we can hope to be,” Collins said about the team’s health going into Saturday’s matchup.

Following the Lady Toppers 87-47 loss to Tennessee, Collins talked about a few things that the team needed to improve to achieve victory.

“Obviously, we didn’t do a good job with boards. That’s the first point of focus,” Collins said.  “Making sure, we do a much better job boxing out, rebounding. They had more offensive rebounds than we had defensive rebounds.”

After WKU’s loss to the Lady Vols, Collins said he was impressed with freshman Ally Collett and her collegiate debut but thought she could perform even better.

“Take care of the ball,” Collins said about improving Collett’s game. “That’s her next step in growing on the offensive end is to make sure she’s being a little bit more mindful of where the players are when she gets herself into trouble.”

As for Collett’s performance on the defensive end, Collins seemed to be quite pleased.  

“She’s got a winner’s heart, a competitor’s heart, so she wants to play well, she wants to win and she’s gonna do everything she can to do that,” Collins said.

As for the Lady Toppers home opener against Ball State, Collins said, “Tennessee is a big game, but Ball state is just as big of a game.”

Collins quickly reflected on last year’s overtime thriller against Ball State, where WKU won in overtime.  

“Dee Givens scored 41 points and we still had to go into overtime to win that ball game,” Collins said.

According to Collins, Ball State has had some unfortunate changes to their roster this year, as two of their three top scorers have been out. However, Collins said that Ball State is a very good defensive team as they only give up an average of about 70 points.

“They don’t let people score very easily,” Collins said.  “I believe last year; we were the highest total or the second highest total of any game they had last year.”

“They’re not gonna make a lot of mistakes, they’re gonna play hard, they’re a great free throw shooting team,” Collins said.  “If you foul them like we fouled Tennessee, we’re gonna be in a long night of watching them shoot free throws.”

With Collett’s 16-point debut and her recent C-USA Freshman of the Week award, many people will look to her to be one of the team’s top performers.  Alongside Collett, Collins talked about a few other players who will be vital performers in Saturday’s game.

“I obviously expect Myriah to do what Myriah does,” Collins said. “I think Selma can play better, I think Fatou Pouye can play better as well.” 

Collins also said that Haywood is a player that could be more impactful for the team, even though she played well in Saturday’s game.

Coach Collins also guaranteed freshman Hope Sivori would not be 0-13 on Saturday.

“She’s a pretty good shooter, I think most of the shots she took were pretty good shots. Her game pace and her practice pace with shooting, they weren’t matched up,” Collins said.

Tipoff in Diddle Arena versus Ball State will commence this Saturday, at 2 p.m as the Lady Toppers aim for their first victory of the season.

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