Lady Toppers cruise past shorthanded Morgan State

WKU guard Terri Smith (20) shoots a layup during the women’s basketball game against Morgan State in Diddle Arena on Wednesday. WKU won 90-43. 

Drake Kizer

The WKU women’s basketball team was nothing but bad news for the Morgan State Bears on Wednesday evening.

The Lady Toppers (3-6) dominated the Bears (1-8) from start to finish, cruising to a 90-43 victory over MSU inside Diddle Arena. WKU shot 52 percent from the field, 57 percent from beyond the arc and 93 percent from the free-throw line. The Lady Toppers out-rebounded their opponent for only the second time this season, 48-25. WKU also logged 21 assists on 32 made field goals.

MSU struggled to do much of anything against the Lady Toppers. The Bears were hindered by a severe lack of depth, dressing only seven players for the contest. While WKU reserves added 27 points, MSU’s bench did not score even one. The Lady Toppers also held MSU below 30 percent shooting from the field and from deep.

“I liked the fact that we shared the ball a lot better than we’ve shared it in some of our games,” head coach Greg Collins said. “We didn’t rely on individual as much as we relied on our teammates. I thought the ball moved a lot more freely, not necessarily just because it was Morgan State and not Oregon State. I think it was just because we were looking for our teammates and moving the ball and that’s something we’ve been working on.”

Yet again, the Lady Toppers were led by redshirt junior forward Dee Givens. Givens posted 18 of her 20 points in the first two quarters before sitting during most of the second half. Redshirt sophomore Arame Niang posted WKU’s second double-double of the season off the bench, grabbing 13 rebounds in addition to 15 points.

After coming off the bench for each of WKU’s last five contests, junior guard Whitney Creech was inserted back into the starting lineup. Creech responded by dishing out 10 assists for the Lady Toppers in 31 minutes of action.

“My mindset is just do whatever coach Collins needs me to do to help this team win,” Creech said. “So, if it’s start or come off the bench, I’m willing to do that. Just whatever it takes for us to get the W.”

Sophomore guard Sherry Porter was also a key contributor, posting a career-high 17 points in 25 minutes.

“I think it started with the team,” Porter said of her performance. “Feeding off the team energy-wise. Like on a couple of shots, Whit said, ‘Shoot it,’ so I shot it.”

Two made free throws by Porter sparked a game-opening 8-0 run for the Lady Toppers. WKU’s defense was also stout in the opening minutes, forcing MSU into multiple misses and a shot clock violation. Senior guard Naomi Bolasingh broke the Bears’ scoring drought by nailing a 3-pointer at the 6:01 mark.

Givens quickly answered MSU’s score, making 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for the Lady Toppers. Scoring between both teams was much more balanced throughout the final minutes of the opening quarter. WKU concluded the first period by making five of its last six field goal attempts, which allowed the Lady Toppers to open up a 22-14 advantage over the Bears.

After MSU began the second quarter only trailing WKU by eight points, the Bears seemed poised to make a run. However, an absolutely stifling defense performance from the Lady Toppers quickly ruined those chances.

MSU was held scoreless for the last 3:53 of the second period, scoring only eight points total in 10 minutes of clock time. The Bears also allowed WKU to make each of their final six field goal attempts. The Lady Toppers finished the second quarter on a cumulative 20-3 run over the last 6:23, extending their halftime advantage to 49-22.

Freshman forward Meral Abdelgawad opened the second half with a 3-pointer for WKU, extending the Lady Toppers’ lead to 30 points at 52-22. Sophomore forward Raneem Elgedawy tallied all six of her second-half points in the opening minutes, making one layup after stealing an MSU inbounds pass.

Elgedawy finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes.

A 3-pointer from sophomore guard Terri Smith halted a 6-0 MSU run late in the third period. WKU concluded the third quarter on a 7-0 run, finishing the frame leading MSU 70-32.

 

MSU did not suffer from a lack of effort on offense late in the game, as they were only outscored by the Lady Toppers 20-11 in the fourth period. The Bears’ persistence allowed them to narrowly escape a 50-point defeat at the hands of the Lady Toppers. WKU defeated MSU by a 47-point margin.

Following the win, the Lady Toppers will head to the Jack Stephens Center to take on Little Rock (2-4). The Trojans will be WKU’s seventh opponent so far this season that made the NCAA Tournament a year ago. WKU will look to improve its 0-6 mark against 2018 NCAA Tournament teams Saturday at 5:30 p.m. in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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