Lady Toppers blown out by No. 2 Notre Dame

Lady Topper basketball coach Greg Collins watches his team take on Louisville on Nov. 6. WKU lost 102-80. 

Drake Kizer

After rattling off three straight victories, the WKU women’s basketball team has now lost each of its last two contests.

But the Lady Toppers would have needed a Hail Mary to overcome national powerhouse No. 2 Notre Dame on Wednesday evening.

The Fighting Irish (10-1) put on a show for the crowd inside Purcell Pavilion, blasting their way to a 94-53 home victory over WKU (5-8). ND shot 69.8 percent from the floor, which was the third-best shooting performance in school history. ND bullied the Lady Toppers down low, scoring 56 points in the paint and tallying 12 blocked shots.

WKU trailed the Fighting Irish in almost every major statistical category. The Lady Toppers were out-rebounded for the second straight contest, 38-29. WKU forced 21 ND turnovers, but the Lady Toppers also turned the ball over 21 times themselves.

The Lady Toppers were led by redshirt junior forward Dee Givens and sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy, who each scored 10 points. Elgedawy lead the team in rebounds with seven, while Givens tied for the team lead in assists with three.

Neither team scored until 8:32 remained in the first quarter, but that was simply the calm before the offensive storm from the Fighting Irish. ND kicked off an 8-0 run that was not snapped until Givens nailed a 3-pointer.

When WKU called for a timeout at the 5:08 mark, ND was shooting 100 percent from both the floor and the free-throw line.

A 3-pointer from redshirt sophomore Arame Niang and a layup from Elgedawy accounted for the rest of the Lady Toppers’ scoring in the first period. Though ND went almost three minutes without scoring a point late in the quarter, the Fighting Irish finished the frame on a 4-0 run to give them a 23-8 advantage.

During the second quarter, things went from bad to catastrophic for WKU.

After forcing eight turnovers in the opening 10 minutes, ND forced six more over the next 10 minutes. WKU failed to make a 3-pointer in the second period, registering only seven points total. At one point, the Lady Toppers did not score for over three minutes.

ND converted 12 straight shots from the floor to end the second period. The Fighting Irish opened up a 38-point halftime advantage thanks to a coinciding 16-1 run.

WKU began the third quarter trailing ND 53-15. Sophomore guard Whitney Creech was a key contributor in the third, sinking two jumpers for the Lady Toppers.

Creech finished with six points in 32 minutes of action.

Elgedawy was also able to get going in the third period, scoring eight of her 10 points in the frame. Unfortunately for WKU, Elgedawy went down with an injury late in the third quarter.

At the end of 30 minutes, ND had extended its lead to 44 points, 74-30.

During the fourth quarter, the Lady Toppers got hot from beyond the arc. Freshman forward Meral Abdelgawad and redshirt junior guard Alexis Brewer each hit a pair of 3-pointers, while sophomore guard Sherry Porter also nailed a 3-pointer.

But the shooting resurgence came too late. ND ended the game on a 6-0 run, cruising to a 41-point victory over the Lady Toppers.

The Lady Toppers shot 30 percent from the floor and 32 percent from deep. WKU grabbed 20 offensive rebounds, swiped 13 steals and scored 11 second-chance points. WKU’s high octane offense scored only 2 fast break points compared to 27 from ND.

Senior guard Marina Mabrey led the way for the Fighting Irish with 20 points. Mabrey did not miss a 3-pointer, posting a perfect 4-of-4 mark from deep.

After falling to the reigning National Champions, the Lady Toppers dropped to 1-7 against 2018 NCAA Tournament teams and 0-4 against top 15 opponents on the year.

Following the loss, the Lady Toppers will get 10 days of rest before a matchup with Division II Union (Tennessee). The Lady Bulldogs (11-0) are ranked No. 1 in both the WBCA Coaches and D2SIDA polls. Though the game will count as an exhibition for Union (Tennessee), it will count for WKU’s record. The Lady Toppers will seek to cap off their tough non-conference schedule with a win Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. in Diddle Arena.

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