Abdelgawad nabs second straight weekly award

Freshman guard Meral Abdelgawad makes a pass during the Lady Toppers’ win over Old Dominion on Saturday.

Drake Kizer

Freshman guard Meral Abdelgawad was awarded her second consecutive Conference USA Freshman of the Week award, the league announced Monday.

Abdelgawad became the first C-USA athlete to win the award two consecutive weeks since Marshall’s Ashley Saintigene did it in 2016-17.

Abdelgawad received the honor for the second time this season after helping guide the Lady Toppers to an 2-0 record during their first week of league play.

Abdelgawad scored seven points and dished out an assist in a 76-58 victory over UNC Charlotte on Jan. 3.

One week after a 26-point outburst against Union (Tennessee) on Dec. 29, Abdelgawad filled up the stat sheet once again in a 75-60 win over Old Dominion on Jan. 5.

Abdelgawad tallied 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and handed out two assists against the Lady Monarchs. Eleven of Abdelgawad’s 22 points came in an explosive third period that saw the freshman knock down three 3-pointers and also net a layup.

With her second 20-point performance of the season, Abdelgawad became WKU’s first true freshman to score at least 20 points during multiple games since 2011-12.

“I think she’s getting a better feel for what American-style basketball is like, and she’s worked really hard on improving her perimeter shooting,” head coach Greg Collins said. “That was intentional because she’s got a real talent at getting to the basket and finishing even with contact, and she’s a strong guard, and so now that she’s a threat from the three-point line…that driving lane gets a little bit more open.”

Although Abdelgawad shined on offense, Collins said he was particularly proud of the strides the Cairo, Egypt, native has made on the defensive end.

“Unfortunately, in the past she’s gone for steals, not gotten them and made our defense really weak,” Collins said. “Now, she’s learning how to put herself in a position where she can… keep us in a position to be able to play solid team defense, and so that’s the biggest growth she’s had, even more so than the offensive end.”

Abdelgawad came away with three steals against the 49ers and two more against the Lady Monarchs.

Abdelgawad also became the first player in program history to receive two freshman weekly awards back-to-back. Abdelgawad joined sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy (four times) and Tashia Brown (three times) as the only Lady Toppers to be named Freshman of the Week on more than one occasion.

Both Brown and Elgedawy went on to be named members of the C-USA All-Freshman team, while Elgedawy was named the C-USA Freshman of Year after last season.

The Lady Toppers will be back in action Saturday at 2 p.m. in Diddle Arena against Marshall.

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