The WKU women’s basketball team was projected to finish third in the league by a vote of the 14 Conference USA head coaches, the conference office announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The Lady Toppers are picked to finish behind first-place Rice and second-place Middle Tennessee State. WKU posted a 0-2 record against the Owls a season ago, but managed a 1-1 mark against the Blue Raiders in 2018-19.
League coaches also voted to honor redshirt senior Dee Givens and junior Raneem Elgedawy as members of the Preseason All-C-USA team after the duo posted a pair of stellar performances during the 2018-19 season.
Givens brought home C-USA All-Conference First team and All-Defensive Team honors as a redshirt junior last season.
The Lexington native averaged 17.6 points per game while posting a 45-40-85 shooting line for the season (45.5% from the field, 40.1% from the free throw line and 85.9% from the free throw line). She also showed her versatility as a two-way player by knocking down 79 3-pointers and snatching a league-leading 99 steals.
Elgedawy dominated the paint last season for the Lady Toppers while earning a C-USA All-Conference Second Team selection. She contributed six double-doubles in 2018-19 and became the second Lady Topper in the history of the program to record multiple 20-rebound games.
Head coach Greg Collins led WKU to a 20-15 campaign and a third-place finish in the conference standings last season during his first year at the helm.
Following the regular season and C-USA Tournament, the Lady Toppers received an invitation to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and advanced to the third round before losing to Ohio.
Collins will return 86% of his offensive production from last year and will rely on those veterans to lead his 2019-20 team.
WKU will return top scorers Givens, Elgedawy, senior Whitney Creech, redshirt senior Alexis Brewer, junior Sherry Porter and sophomore Meral Abdelgawad — a C-USA All-Freshman Team selection last season.
“It’s a different process,” Collins said on Sept. 28. “Last year we were trying to replace 50% of our scoring and a lot of our rebounding, so we had a different initial goal heading into practice. Now we’re doing a little more building, making sure we know who’s going to get the shots and where they’re going to come from and really working on our team concept.”
The Lady Toppers will also look to reload this season after losing several expected contributors during the offseason.
WKU will welcome two transfers and three freshman to the team. Collins will also add transfers Myriah Haywood and Sandra Skinner to the fold after both sat out last season.
WKU will be in action at Hilltopper Hysteria, the annual tip-off event for the WKU men’s and women’s basketball programs, Thursday night. The Lady Toppers will then open play with an exhibition against Kentucky Wesleyan on Oct. 31.
Reporter Jesse Spencer can be reached at [email protected]