Lady Toppers blast Central Michigan, cruise to 35-point home victory

WKU senior guard Whitney Creech (5) pulls up for a shot in a crowd of Chippewas during the Lady Toppers’ game against Central Michigan in Diddle Arena on Sunday, Nov. 17 in Bowling Green.

Jesse Spencer

The WKU women’s basketball team (3-1) trounced Central Michigan (0-3) in a 93-58 home win on Sunday afternoon, as the Lady Toppers absolutely dominated their rebounding battle with the Chippewas for all 40 minutes of play in Diddle Arena.

WKU put together back-to-back stellar scoring performances, posting shooting splits of 50% from the field, 43% from deep and 80% from the free-throw line. The Lady Toppers also outscored the Chippewas 22-8 in points off turnovers and 24-8 in second-chance-points.

The Lady Toppers muscled their way to a 48-24 rebounding advantage over CMU and netted 44 points in the paint to build their massive lead over the course of the game.

This aggressive play in the lane led to 25 free throw attempts from WKU, and the Lady Toppers knocked down 20 foul shots compared to only eight from CMU.

Head coach Greg Collins said he’s demanded better rebounding performances from his team since last season, and the team’s latest matchup with CMU was no different.

“Coach [Chris Mack] at Louisville talks about having a rebounding attitude,” Collins said. “It’s not always pretty, and sometimes it’s just about who’s going to be the most aggressive, who’s going to be the most determined and so we’ve worked on that.”

The Chippewas shot 39% from the field, 32% from behind the arc and 67% from the charity stripe during the game.

Junior guard Micaela Kelly led the way offensively for CMU by scoring 17 points in 36 minutes. Grand Rapids, Michigan, native Kyra Bussell scored 11 of her own and provided the only consistent rebounding for the Chippewas with seven boards.

The Lady Toppers continued their streak of four players scoring in double figures for the third consecutive game. Lexington native Dee Givens put up yet another strong performance, tallying 21 points and seven rebounds in the blowout.

Senior guard Whitney Creech continued to look for her shot offensively and drained 18 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished four assists. Junior guard Sherry Porter also lit it up from the field by scoring 17 points and amassing five rebounds in 28 minutes.

Junior forward Raneem Elgedawy compiled a quiet double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

CMU came out attacking from the jump, scoring the first four points of the game in the paint. But Porter and Givens answered with a 6-0 run of their own, making the score 6-4.

The Lady Topper run was halted briefly by a deep 3-pointer from Chippewa freshman Molly Davis, but WKU continued attacking.

Porter knocked down her second and third 3-pointers of the quarter, and Givens drained one of her own to push her point total to six in the early going.

Elgedawy showcased her footwork in the paint, grabbing an and-one basket before Creech jumped a passing lane at the top of the key. She turned defense into offense, netting an easy layup for two WKU points on the other end.

CMU took a timeout with 4:02 left in the opening period in an attempt to stop the bleeding caused by the 14-3 run WKU had mounted over the last 2:31 of clock time. 

Following the break, both teams played a frantic brand of basketball and traded buckets for the final four minutes of the period. The Chippewas ended the frame by netting all five of their last five field goal attempts, trimming the Lady Toppers’ advantage in the process.

Creech led the way for the Lady Toppers to close out the first, scoring six of their final eight points and pushing the WKU lead to 30-21 heading into the second quarter.

Both teams started the second period in sloppy fashion, committing two travelling violations each in the first four minutes.

The collective offensive struggles also carried over into the shooting percentages posted by both teams, as CMU hit only 25% of its attempts and WKU made just 42% of its field goals before the 4:59 mark of the second quarter.

Creech netted a layup at the 4:24 mark, but the Chippewas began to fight back with a tough brand of defense and an efficient offensive attack from that point on, forcing five costly WKU turnovers in the final 5:28 of the first half.

CMU finished the half on a 7-0 run and held the Lady Toppers scoreless for the final 4:24.

The Chippewas drained four of their final five shots from the field, making the score 41-35 at the halftime break. WKU nursed its six-point lead heading into the intermission, but CMU had claimed all of the momentum in the final half of the second period.

The Lady Toppers came out scorching in the second half, as sophomore guard Meral Abdelgawad made a 3-pointer and Elgedawy scored two tough buckets in the restricted area to push the WKU lead to 13 points. 

The Chippewas ended the 7-0 WKU run with a layup by Kelly with 7:09 left in the third quarter, making the score 48-37 at that point.

Following the initial run by WKU, the third quarter became a seesaw battle where both teams matched each other every time down the court.

The Lady Toppers found their footing again to end the period, mounting a late 11-2 run led by leading scorers Creech, Givens and Porter.

“I think it is clicking because we aren’t really worried about our offense,” Givens said. “We really focus on defense. When we huddle, we always say, ‘Defense first, defense first’, and then we know our offense is going to come.”

WKU took control back in the third quarter by scoring 26 points in the frame and allowing CMU to shoot a mere 30% from the field. The Lady Toppers’ lead was pushed to 67-45 heading into the final 10 minutes of play when Givens netted a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining.

The Lady Toppers set the tone at the start of the fourth quarter with seven offensive rebounds in the first three minutes of play.

This energy and effort propelled WKU to a 26-point lead with 7:10 left in the final quarter and extended the Lady Toppers’ rebounding advantage to 36-19.

WKU was able to string together a 13-3 run and essentially put the Chippewas to bed with 5:47 left in the fourth.

The Lady Topper lead moved to 29, and Collins decided to give freshmen guards De’Myla Brown and Hya Haywood valuable minutes to close out the game.

The younger Lady Topper unit that was employed for the final 4:38 of the game held its own against CMU and was able to go on a 14-3 run to close out a big home win. 

WKU put together a complete game and dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring WMU 26-13 and outrebounding them 21-6.

The Lady Toppers were able to hold the Chippewas to 1-of-10 shooting from the field to finish the game and secured a 35-point home victory.

Next time out, the Lady Toppers will take on Little Rock (1-3).

WKU and the Trojans will compete in Diddle Arena on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. The game will be streamed live for ESPN+ subscribers.

Reporter Jesse Spencer can be reached at [email protected] Follow Jesse on Twitter at @jesse_spencer_5.