Dee Givens drops career-high 41 points, Lady Toppers pick up road win in overtime at Ball State

WKU forward Dee Givens (4) shoots the ball over Central Michigan forward Gabrielle Bird (33). The Lady Toppers defeated the Chippewas 93 – 58 in Diddle Arena on Sunday, November 17 2019.

Nick Kieser

The WKU women’s basketball team (7-2) pulled out a nail-biter on Saturday evening, as redshirt senior forward Dee Givens dropped a career-high 41 points for the Lady Toppers in a 91-86 overtime win against Ball State (4-4) in Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana.

The Lady Toppers took on Ball State for the seventh consecutive year, grabbing their first win against the Cardinals since 2016 and their first victory at Ball State since 2009.

Head coach Greg Collins got a win in his fourth overall trip to Ball State, conquering the Cardinals in the extra period and improving to 2-2 on the road this season.

“We’re thrilled with where we are and we’re thrilled with the growth of where we are as a team,” Collins said. “We grew tonight because we learned how to finish off that overtime, learned how to play on top in the fourth quarter and take over the ball.”

“We executed better, and there are still more things to improve,” Collins continued. “We’re a whole different team than what we were two weeks ago and it’s a way different team than what it was when we started the season and that’s what you want. Right now, we’re going to go celebrate and go get some ice cream.”

The Lady Toppers were led by Givens, who went 7 for 7 at the charity stripe, 14-of-28 from the field, played all 45 minutes and tallied 41 points to break a 25-year-old Worthen Arena record

Givens had the second-most points scored in a game by a Lady Topper in program history and accrued the third-most points by an NCAA player this season.

“She’s shooting the ball,” Collins said. “It was funny because I mentioned to one of our fans before the game that Dee hadn’t had a breakout game just yet and it had not fallen for her. I could tell she didn’t want to give that ball up when it got into her hands. We did a good job of looking for her and she did a good job trying to find herself some open space.” 

Givens said she reached her new career-best by “just focusing on the rim” and not worrying about if the last shot she took didn’t fall.

“It’s special,” Givens said. “All of the time I put in the gym this year and last year and anytime before that. It’s special, but I’m going to enjoy this for today and keep pushing to the next game.”

Junior forward Raneem Elgedawy led WKU with nine rebounds, while senior guard Whitney Creech had 15 points and a team-high seven assists.

WKU shot 41.3% from the field, 34.6% from beyond the arc and 72.7% from the free-throw line during the game. The Lady Toppers had 18 fastbreak points, nine steals, and 19 points off turnovers. 

Redshirt senior guard Alexis Brewer returned for the Lady Toppers, making her 2019-20 season debut after recovering from offseason surgery to repair an injured shoulder.

Collins said at Hilltopper Hysteria on Oct. 17 that Brewer was expected to return this year, but the team was being patient with her rehabilitation process while she recovered from a labrum tear suffered late in the 2018-19 campaign.

Brewer finished with one rebound, one steal and zero points in 10 minutes played.

Ball State shot 51.5% from the field, 33.3% from beyond the arc and 54.5% from the free-throw line falling against the Lady Toppers in the extra time. The Cardinals had six fastbreak points, five steals, and 10 points off turnovers.

The opening quarter of the contest saw the Cardinals strike first from a fastbreak play and a bucket, as Ball State graduate guard Jasmin Samz went 1 for 2 at the free-throw line.

Junior guard Sherry Porter responded with a 3-pointer for the Lady Toppers to make it a 3-3 game at the 8:35 mark.

Roughly four minutes into the quarter, the Lady Toppers allowed two Ball State and-ones. The Cardinals went on a 9-0 run at the 6:46 mark, and redshirt freshman guard Anna Clephane made the fifth consecutive scoring play to give Ball State a 12-5 lead in the opening run.

Redshirt senior forward Dee Givens and Porter then ended a three-minute scoring hiatus for the Lady Toppers, making it a 12-9 game at the 4:47 mark.

Givens made her first 3-pointer of the game with 3:46 to go in the first quarter, but Ball State freshman guard Sydney Freeman responded with a 3-pointer of her own at the 3:04 mark.

The Lady Toppers fell behind 22-14 to end the first quarter, as the Cardinals held Elgedawy, the leading scorer in Conference USA, scoreless in the first frame.

Elgedawy, who averages 17 points per game for the Lady Toppers, remained scoreless for the rest of the first half. She failed to score a single point until the second half.

“Raneem got off to a tough start getting into early foul trouble and I could tell by the way the game was being played in that second quarter she would have gotten a second a third or maybe even a fourth foul,” Collins said. “So, I felt like it was better to wait until the second half when it really matters.”

Shortly after commencing play in the second quarter, WKU subbed in Brewer at the 9:22 mark. Creech then made a 3-pointer while being fouled on the play, but the Cardinals remained ahead in the game at 22-16.

Brewer’s first play that made the stat sheet was a steal at the 8:29 mark. Givens continued to control the Lady Topper offense and reached 10 points on the night after being fouled with 7:17 to go in the second quarter, shooting 2 for 2 on the line to make it a 26-20 game.

The Lady Toppers kept firing on all cylinders, as Givens made her second 3-pointer of the game with 4:00 to go and scored her eighth consecutive point in a row before halftime. 

Junior forward Fatou Pouye made a layup off an assist from sophomore guard Meral Abdelgawad at the 3:32 mark, trimming the Lady Topper deficit to 32-29.

Freshman guard De’Myla Brown soon netted her first bucket of the game, making the score 35-31 with 1:59 left in the first half. Givens had an and-three opportunity, and she made it a 39-35 game for the Lady Toppers.

Brown finished up the first-half scoring by making her first 3-pointer of the game with 18 seconds left, but the Cardinals maintained a 43-38 advantage at the halftime break.

Givens led the way for WKU with 21 first-half points. She also paced the Lady Toppers with four rebounds in the opening half. Abdelgawad committed three personal fouls in the first half of play.

The Lady Toppers outscored the Cardinals 24-21 in the second quarter after trailing 22-14 in the previous quarter. WKU kept the game within striking distance against the Cardinals, who had not lost to the Lady Toppers in their barn since the first-ever matchup.

Pouye got the third quarter underway by making two consecutive layups, including her sixth point of the game at the 8:10 mark. After the score moved to 43-42, the Cardinals returned fire with sophomore forward Thelma Dis Agustsdottir’s jumper to make it 45-42 at the 7:52 mark. 

Creech tied the game at 47-47 with 6:37 to go in the third quarter and had an and-one chance at the charity line. She knotted the contest again at 51-51 on a coast-to-coast move to get the layup at the 5:33 mark. 

Elgedawy found the bucket for the first time in the game at the 4:44 mark, and the Lady Toppers forced the Cardinals to call a timeout after allowing the momentum to shift from their first-half lead. 

Junior forward Oshlynn Brown tied the game for the Cardinals at the 4:05 mark. Givens then lifted her team to a 56-53 lead at the 3:34 mark with her third 3-pointer of the contest.

Givens made her second three pointer in a row and her fourth of the game to pull the Lady Toppers ahead 59-55 at the 2:26 mark in the third quarter. Freshman forward Annie Rauch made a layup for the Cardinals with 41 seconds left in the quarter to make the score 59-57.

Samz opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer for the Cardinals at the 9:20 mark, making the score a 60-59 game in favor of Ball State. 

Givens drove her way up the floor, drawing a foul and making an and-one play. She eclipsed her career-high 31 points with the free-throw while taking a 62-60 lead at the 7:56 mark. 

Abdelgawad was fouled at the 6:55 mark and went 1 for 2 at the line for her first points of the game. Creech was fouled a few moments later and pulled WKU within one.

Oshlynn Brown made three consecutive buckets for Ball State, allowing the Cardinals to take the lead 68-64 with 6:03 remaining. She also drew a foul from Abdelgawad, which was the sophomore’s fifth and final of the game, dismissing her from the court. 

Porter scored a 3-pointer with 5:36 to go in the final frame, making the score 68-67 in favor of the Cardinals before a media break. Each team still had all four timeouts remaining with 4:42 left in the game. 

WKU fouled Rauch with 4:00 to go in the fourth quarter. She made both shots on the line, but Elgedawy responded with her second bucket of the game at the 3:38 mark to make it 69-69. 

On a 6-0 run for roughly over a minute, Givens scored two consecutive times and Creech made a layup to take the lead 74-69 with 2:41 to go in the fourth quarter.

Clephane scored a layup for the Cardinals at the 1:33 mark of the final frame. Cardinal head coach Brady Salle then called a timeout down 74-71.

Oshlynn Brown pulled the game within one for the Cardinals with 33 seconds left to go in the game after making her shots at the charity stripe. Collins then called a timeout,

Creech was fouled seconds later, went 1 for 2 on the line and maintained a 75-73 WKU lead.

Oshlynn Brown tied the game at 75-75, forcing overtime with 19 seconds left.

Clephane was fouled and went 1 for 2 on the line to open the extra frame. Elgedawy made a layup to counter the foul at the 4:18 mark of overtime and gave WKU a 77-76 lead.

Elgedawy scored back-to-back points, giving WKU a 79-76 lead with 3:33 to go in the extra frame. Oshlynn Brown was fouled at 3:15 and shot 1 for 2 on the line to make it 79-77.

Oshlynn Brown finished with a team-high 22 points for the Cardinals.

Givens jabbed a 3-pointer for 38 points on the night at the 2:51 mark and granted the Lady Toppers an 82-77 lead. She then committed a foul on Freeman, who made it 82-80 at the line.

Givens and Eldgedawy scored four points and at the 1:37 mark, as the Lady Toppers took an 87-80 lead. Pouye reached double digits in the scoring department with 47 seconds to go in overtime, contributing to WKU’s 89-82 lead. 

Samz scored a 3-pointer for the Cardinals with 35 seconds left in overtime, making it an 89-85 game. Creech responded with 1-of-2 shooting at the stripe to extend the WKU lead to 90-85. 

After a flurry of free throws and timeouts in the waning moments, the Lady Toppers escaped with a five-point non-conference victory in overtime to begin their five-game road trip. 

“It took us eight years but we got it,” Collins said. “Like I told the players, it wasn’t the prettiest game, it wasn’t our best-played game. But sometimes you just learn to slug through it in these ugly games to come out with a win like we did today.”

Following the win over the Cardinals, the Lady Toppers will stay on the road for their next four games to wrap up both non-conference play and the 2019 calendar year.

The Lady Toppers will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, in eight days to take on Samford (3-7)  for the schools’ second matchup in program history.

The Bulldogs have struggled so far this season against a very tough non-conference schedule that included road games at Power 5 schools Florida (6-2) and No. 8 Florida State (8-0).

Tipoff in the Pete Hanna Center is set for 2 p.m. on Dec. 15.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated that the Lady Toppers’ matchup with Samford on Dec. 15 would be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The game was actually the second contest in the all-time series. The article has since been corrected. The Herald regrets the error.

Reporter Nick Kieser can be reached at [email protected] Follow Nick on Twitter at @KieserNick.