Lady Toppers survive 11-point deficit, move to second round of WNIT

Lady Toppers’ head coach Greg Collins instructs the team during their 75-60 win over Old Dominion on Saturday at Diddle Arena.

Drake Kizer

The WKU women’s basketball team advanced to the Round of 32 in the Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday evening, erasing an 11-point deficit in the third quarter of its opening round game against Miami (Ohio).

WKU (19-14) committed 11 turnovers in the first two quarters alone, but Miami (23-9) could not withstand the Lady Toppers’ offensive onslaught in the third period, as WKU outscored Miami 24-12. Negating a 15 percent shooting percentage from deep, the Lady Toppers out-rebounded Miami 37-26 in their 67-63 road win in Millett Hall.

The Lady Toppers were led by a pair of stellar performances from redshirt junior forward Dee Givens and sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy.

Elgedawy nabbed a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Givens got close to another with 20 points and nine boards.

The RedHawks began the game on a 4-0 run, opening up a lead they would not let go of for the rest of the first half, leading for the entirety of the opening 20 minutes.

The Lady Toppers could hardly keep up in the first quarter, as Elgedawy scored four of the team’s nine total points in the period.

Elgedawy kept WKU afloat for much of the first half, collecting 11 points and seven rebounds of her eventual double-double in the first two frames alone.

Senior wing Kendall McCoy matched WKU’s offensive output in the first frame by her lonesome, netting nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.

Miami matched its largest lead of the night with under a minute left to play before the second quarter, taking a 20-9 advantage over the helpless Lady Toppers.

WKU continued its season-long trend of solid second-quarter performances, outscoring the RedHawks 18-15 in the frame.

The Lady Toppers started off the period on a 10-2 run, which was capped off by a three-point play from Givens, whose foul shot trimmed WKU’s deficit to 22-19 with 6:40 left to play before halftime.

A jumper from junior guard Lauren Dickerson, who finished with 25 points for Miami, halted the WKU run and helped Miami eventually claw back in front by seven.

An and-one layup from Elgedawy cut the RedHawks’ lead to four at the 4:48 mark, but the Lady Toppers were outscored 9-5 down the stretch in the second quarter.

Redshirt junior guard Alexis Brewer drained a jumper that beat the buzzer and trimmed WKU’s deficit to single digits just before the halftime break, 35-27.

Senior guard Leah Purvis kicked off the third quarter with a 3-pointer for the RedHawks, helping Miami immediately get back in front by 11 points and take their largest lead.

WKU kept clawing, although the squad fell behind 42-34 after senior forward Kristen Levering converted a layup for Miami with 5:47 left in the third.

Redshirt sophomore forward Arame Niang pulled up from distance, swishing a 3-pointer that pulled WKU back to within five points at the 5:29 mark.

But the Lady Toppers did not stop there, rattling off a 17-0 run that was uninterrupted by anyone on the RedHawks’ roster until 1:12 remaining in the third period. Givens scored 13 points in the third alone, helping WKU take its first lead of the contest.

Miami ended the third frame on a quick 5-0 swing but still trailed, 51-47.

The RedHawks were determined not to abandon their nest, as McCoy netted a 3-pointer 10 seconds into the final period before tying the game 53-53 with another shot from beyond the arc only 42 seconds later. Miami kept pushing, eventually regaining the lead over the Lady Toppers and building a 58-55 lead with 6:35 to play.

Junior guard Whitney Creech gave WKU the lead back momentarily at the 4:33 mark, but Purvis answered with a 3-pointer for Miami shortly thereafter.

But the Lady Toppers were unfazed. Brewer, who finished with 16 points and three rebounds, tied the game 61-61. After nearly three minutes with no buckets from either team, Creech netted a layup that give WKU a 63-61 lead with only 0:56 to play.

The RedHawks made one final stand, tying the game 63-63 on a Dickerson layup. But Brewer stepped up and nailed yet another basket. Elgedawy sealed the game with two crucial foul shots with under five seconds remaining, securing a four-point road win.

Following the victory, the Lady Toppers will proceed to the second round of the WNIT.

WKU will meet in-state opponent Morehead State (24-10). The Eagles defeated Ohio State (14-15) 71-61 on the road Wednesday night.

According to a tweet from WKU women’s basketball’s verified Twitter account, WKU will return to Bowling Green and host MSU Sunday at 2 p.m. in Diddle Arena.

Women’s basketball reporter Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and [email protected] Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.