Lady Toppers even record by defeating Old Dominion

WKU freshman guard Meral Abdelgawad goes up in a crowded lane during the Lady Toppers’ win over Old Dominion.

Drake Kizer

The WKU women’s basketball team reigned supreme on Saturday afternoon, reaching a .500 record on the season by overcoming Old Dominion.

The Lady Toppers (8-8, 2-0 Conference USA) toppled the Lady Monarchs (9-5, 0-2 C-USA) thanks to a 21-11 scoring advantage in the third period, finishing the first week of their C-USA schedule with a 75-60 victory in Diddle Arena. WKU shot 51 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3-point range, nailing 10 shots from beyond the arc.

ODU had a slight advantage inside, as the Lady Monarchs out-rebounded WKU 38-31 and outscored the Lady Toppers in the paint 30-26. WKU countered those disadvantages by dishing out 19 assists and playing solid defense, as the Lady Monarchs shot only 37 percent from the floor and 24 percent from deep.

“I’ve felt positive pretty much all season with our growth,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said postgame. “I just think some of our improvement didn’t always result in more points or better defense just yet. There was a lot of things that we had to teach and kids had to learn… While Charlotte and Old Dominion are both really good teams…we’re not outmatched all the time at every position.”

Freshman guard Meral Abdelgawad led the way for WKU with 22 points and five rebounds. Sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy grabbed seven rebounds, which tied her with redshirt junior forward Dee Givens for the team-high.

ODU scored the game’s first points, taking an early 2-0 advantage over the Lady Toppers. WKU responded with a 6-0 run, aided by the fact ODU failed to register a point for 2:37 of clock time. However, a 3-pointer brought Old Dominion to within one at 6-5.

The Lady Toppers opened up as much as an eight-point advantage after a 5-0 run in the closing moments of the first period, but ODU ended the first quarter by converting four shots from the foul line. WKU led 9-15 after 10 minutes of action.

The Lady Monarchs extended their good fortune into the second quarter, sinking 3-pointers on their first two possessions to take their first lead of the game at 21-19. WKU responded with a 7-0 run, regaining a six-point lead at 29-23 with 5:54 left to play.

After an ODU jumper at 4:09, the Lady Toppers held the Lady Monarchs scoreless for over three minutes of clock time. WKU failed to take advantage of the drought, as the Lady Toppers’ only make during that same stretch was a 3-pointer by Givens.

Junior guard Whitney Creech capped off the second period with a difficult and-one layup, giving WKU a 36-31 advantage at the half.

Abdelgawad came out of the locker room after halftime firing on all cylinders, nailing a trio of 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the third period. Abdelgawad’s third made shot from deep came in the middle of a 9-0 run which extended the WKU lead to 55-37.

“We kind of want to come out in the third quarter on fire and we want to kind of shut the game off then,” Creech said. “We want to, you know, take away any hope they have of coming back in the game… Coach Collins just urges us to come out and play hard and bring intensity and just start the third quarter the right way and finish it.”

Both teams went cold after that run, as three made free throws by the Lady Monarchs were the only points scored by either side for over three minutes. Abdelgawad ended WKU’s scoreless drought with a layup at the 0:26 mark, while ODU ended its nearly seven-minute field goal drought with :012 remaining in the third quarter.

The Lady Toppers began the fourth quarter with a 57-42 advantage. WKU continued to build on its lead, using 5-0 and 8-0 runs throughout the frame to put the Lady Monarchs away. ODU mounted a 6-0 run of its own late in the contest, but their deficit was far too large to overcome in short order, as the Lady Toppers skated to a 15-point win.

Following the win, the Lady Toppers will not play for seven days. WKU will welcome C-USA rival Marshall to Bowling Green in one week’s time. Like the Lady Toppers, the Thundering Herd (8-7, 2-0 C-USA) have defeated ODU and Charlotte so far in league competition. WKU will seek to extend its 10-1 advantage in the all-time series Jan. 12 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_.