Lady Toppers dominate Belmont, claim first home win of regular season

Redshirt senior forward Dee Givens (4) drives toward the basket during the Lady Toppers’ game against Belmont in Diddle Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 13 in Bowling Green.

Jesse Spencer

The WKU women’s basketball team (2-1) buried Belmont (2-1) in a 77-46 home win on Wednesday evening in Diddle Arena, as the Lady Toppers flexed their defensive muscles and allowed their lowest point total to date.

WKU shot the ball efficiently all night, posting shooting splits of 42% from the field, 41% from deep and 72% from the free throw line. The Lady Toppers also cut down substantially on turnovers compared to their last outing, turning it over only nine times instead of 25.

The Lady Toppers dominated the game on the defensive end by amassing 15 steals, forcing 24 turnovers and allowing the Bruins to knock down only two 3-pointers over the course of the game. They turned defense into offense on the other end as well by scoring 27 points off turnovers.

Belmont shot 33% from the field, 13% from behind the arc and 57% from the charity stripe on the game. Junior forward Ellie Harmeyer carried the offensive load for the Bruins, scoring 19 points and collecting seven rebounds. She was the only Bruin in double figures.

For the second straight game, four starters scored in double figures for WKU. Senior forward Dee Givens played a complete game by scoring a game-high 24 points, collecting six rebounds and getting five steals in the win. 

Senior point guard Whitney Creech showed that her work to be a more aggressive scorer has paid off, as she put up 15 points for her second consecutive game.

Head coach Greg Collins said he knows Creech must keep this up for the entire season.

“Yeah, we need her to score,” Collins said. “I’ve probably said it 5,000 times. She scored 5,000 points in high school, and she averaged 51 points per game her senior year. She knows where the basketball goal is, and we need her to go score for us to be a really good team.”

Junior guard Sherry Porter scored 12 points in the blowout, and Alexandria, Egypt, native Raneem Elgedawy contributed 11 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes of action. 

The Lady Toppers came out with a different intensity from their prior contests as Collins started them in a full court press from the tip. 

Belmont struggled offensively shooting a horrid 13% from the field and being forced into 3 turnovers before the first media timeout with 4:50 left in the first quarter. 

WKU matched their effort on defense with their aggression on offense by starting the game on a 12-2 run. 

Redshirt freshman guard Myriah Haywood provided a huge lift off the bench by dropping in four points, snatching two steals and taking a huge charge to force yet another Bruin turnover. 

The Lady Toppers used the same approach in the first quarter that spurred them to a 28-point fourth quarter against Mercer in their last game by moving the ball offensively and scoring by committee. The Lady Toppers shot 47% from the field in the period, and six players scored.

WKU took a 22-8 lead into the second quarter against Belmont thanks to nine Bruin turnovers and nine points off those turnovers. 

Belmont came out of the break on fire hitting five of their first nine shots from the field and going on a 12-2 run to cut the WKU lead to nine with 5:32 left in the second. Harmeyer was a strong scoring threat in the frame draining eight of her team-high 19 points in the second quarter. 

The Bruins sparked their comeback by employing a half-court trap, but the Lady Toppers recovered with a 9-0 run of their own only two minutes later.

Givens and Creech led the attack on offense for WKU in the second quarter by draining four combined 3-pointers and scoring nine and five points respectively. 

Givens stayed aggressive throughout the game and was able to put up her highest scoring game of the season. 

“The first two games I was being denied, so it felt pretty good to go out there and nobody was all up on me,” Givens said. “I felt like I was just shooting and trusted that it was going to go in.”

The Lady Toppers and Bruins both scored 18 points in the period, and WKU was able to maintain their 14-point lead going into the half up 40-26.

Elgedawy came out with a different energy in the third quarter finishing an and-one opportunity and hitting a tough floater in the lane. Creech continued her strong play offensively in the third by knocking down her second triple of the game and taking her point total to 10.

Givens then picked up right where she left off in the first half hitting a strongly contested 3-pointer, and Haywood used her defensive awareness to pick off another Bruin pass and draw a foul. 

The Lady Toppers used this offensive push to put together a 12-2 run and extend the lead to 22 with 4:56 left in the third. 

Both teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter and neither side could provide a big momentum swing. WKU  their lead to 21 heading to the fourth thanks to six points each from Elgedawy and Givens.

Belmont began the fourth struggling more than any other point in the game. They did not score for the first four minutes of action and missed their first eight shots.

“Our game plan was to make sure they beat us in twos, not threes,” Collins said. “If they were going to beat us they were going to have to get off the 3-point line … I was really proud of our effort and our team focus of making sure we were executing our gameplan.”

WKU took advantage of this drought by the Bruins to go on an 11-0 run and push their lead to 32 with 6:16 left in the game. Givens and Creech continued to pour it in from the field, and junior guard Sherry Porter added a 3-pointer of her own during this stretch. 

Belmont broke its scoring drought with a free throw with 6:05 left in the final quarter, but they did not score their first field goal of the frame until the 4:36 mark. The Lady Toppers held the Bruins to 27% from the field in the second half.

Porter took control of the offense late as Creech, Givens and Elgedawy moved to the bench to allow the younger players to get more experience. She scored nine of her twelve in the fourth and put the game away for WKU. 

The Lady Toppers outscored the Bruins 20-10 in the final 10 minutes and took home a commanding 31-point victory.

Next time out, the Lady Toppers will take on Central Michigan (0-1), as the two teams will battle in Diddle Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m.

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