Lady Toppers down Mercer for first win of season

WKU sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy fades away her jumper over Old Dominion Maggie Robinson in day two of the C-USA Women’s Tournament at the Ford Center at The Star March 14 in Frisco, Texas. Elgedawy crushed the boards with 15 rebounds and wiped the paint with 20 points in the 74-60 Hilltopper victory. [HERALD/ Joseph Barkoff]

Jesse Spencer

The WKU women’s basketball team (1-1) pulled off an exhilarating 75-62 road win at Mercer (1-1) on Friday afternoon in Macon, Georgia, as the Lady Toppers grabbed their first win of the 2019-20 campaign.

WKU improved upon its shooting performance against No. 9 Louisville substantially by hitting 43% of its shots from the field and 47% from distance against Mercer. 

The Lady Toppers had 25 turnovers over the course of the game, but they atoned for their sloppy play by dominating the rebounding battle 51-27.

Mercer shot 40% from the field and was held to only one 3-pointer in the contest. Sophomore forward Jaron Dougherty put the Bears on her back as she compiled 26 points and 13 rebounds over 36 minutes of action. 

WKU shared the wealth offensively as four starters scored in double figures. Junior forward Raneem Elgedawy led the way with 20 points and 19 rebounds in the win. 

Cairo, Egypt, native Meral Abdelgawad and senior point guard Whitney Creech both poured in 15 points, and redshirt senior Dee Givens contributed 10 points and nine rebounds of her own. 

WKU gave up the first bucket of the game to Dougherty of Mercer before going on an offensive tear and posting a 12-0 run.

Abdelgawad came out firing for the Lady Toppers draining her first two 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and adding another later in the frame. 

Elgedawy followed Abdelgawad’s marksmanship with two tough layups in the paint to push the WKU lead to 10-2 with 6:33 left in the first. 

Mercer struggled offense early on, shooting just 33% for the first quarter. Dougherty accounted for their only offensive points until the 3:35 mark of the first quarter. 

Both teams struggled to take care of the ball in the first as the Lady Toppers turned it over eight times and the Bears turned it over six times. 

Givens took advantage of the sloppy play and swiped three steals while also dropping in four points.

WKU led Mercer 21-14 after the first period thanks in part to the 13-4 rebound advantage held by the Lady Toppers.

Both teams experienced an extreme scoring drought coming out of the break. Mercer failed to score for over four minutes and WKU did not score for over five and a half minutes. 

The Lady Toppers shot a mere 16.7% from the field, 20% from deep and 25% from the charity stripe in the frame. The Bears performed only slightly better by shooting 33.3% from the field, 25% from 3-point range and 0% from the line. 

Creech struggled to take care of the ball in the first half amassing three uncharacteristic turnovers. Redshirt freshman Myriah Haywood turned the ball over four times, and Abdelgawad tallied three more turnovers of her own. 

Despite the shooting woes, the Bears clawed their way back into the contest by finishing the half with a flurry of strong buckets around the rim. Mercer cut the lead to one thanks to a 9-2 run over the final two minutes. 

The Lady Toppers nursed a 28-27 lead into the halftime break. Elgedawy proved to be the one bright spot for WKU in the first half by scoring 11 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. 

Dougherty came out of the half on a mission, scoring eight of Mercer’s first 10 points and fighting to keep them in the game. 

WKU spread the ball around to start the half with six people getting in the scoring column. These contributions helped the Lady Toppers take a 39-37 lead into the media timeout with 4:49 left in the third. 

Mercer took its first lead since the 9:49 mark in the first quarter on yet another Dougherty layup. The Bears went up 42-41 going into the media timeout with 3:33 remaining in the third quarter. 

Following the timeout, the lead changed hands six times before the end of the quarter as both the Lady Toppers and the Bears jockeyed for position. 

The third period ended with the score tied at 47. Dougherty carried the Mercer offense scoring 13 of her game-high 24 in the third.

The game continued to seesaw back and forth in the first three minutes of the fourth until Elgedawy, Creech and Abdelgawad sparked an 8-2 run. The Lady Toppers used this momentum to catapult them to a six point lead with 5:48 left in the game.

Porter joined the fun later in the quarter and knocked down two clutch 3-pointers to push the WKU lead to eight with 2:33 left in the fourth. 

The Lady Toppers truly found their stroke when it mattered most as they compiled a 15-4 run over the final four minutes to put them over the top for a 13-point win.

The Lady Toppers take on Belmont next, as the two teams will square off in Diddle Arena on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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