Lady Toppers fall to Oregon State in first round of NCAA Tournament

Senior forward Ivy Brown, (23), of Hodgenville, Ky., looks down the court for an open player during the game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Alec Jessie

The Lady Toppers fell in their NCAA Tournament opener on Friday afternoon, as sixth-seeded Oregon State University came out firing on all cylinders, winning the game 82-58.

From the opening tip to the final whistle, the Beavers dominated the Lady Toppers. Beavers’ forward Marie Gulich scored 29 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

The Beavers were able to separate themselves from WKU with a 11-0 run in the first quarter and never looked back. Oregon State held WKU to just 32.8 percent shooting from the floor and rebounded the Lady Toppers 48-27.

“That’s a heck of a team,” head coach Michelle Clark-Heard said in a press conference afterwards. “They’re leading the country in 3-point shooting, and they just had a fantastic game. Really proud of my team though. We competed.”

The nation’s leader in 3-point percentage made 10 3-pointers and helped the Beavers pull away early in the game.

“Our game plan was to kind of limit their threes, and we didn’t follow the game plan like we should have,” WKU senior forward Tashia Brown said. “They knocked down big shots.”

In addition to Gulich, Kat Tudor scored 19 points and hit five 3-pointers. Mikayla Pivec and Katie McWilliams also reached double-digit point totals. Pivec dished out eight of Oregon State’s 19 assists. The Beavers also hit 10 more free throws than WKU, shooting almost 20 percent higher from the stripe.

The Lady Toppers struggled to get anything going on offense. WKU only had eight points in the paint compared to Oregon State’s 28. They never led in the game.

Three Lady Toppers reached double-digit scoring. Tashia Brown led the Lady Toppers with 17 points. Senior forward Ivy Brown scored 14 of her own. Neither player shot well from the floor, however, as both players just shot 33 percent from the floor. Sophomore guard Dee Givens was the Lady Toppers’ most efficient scorer, scoring 12 points off of seven shots, including three 3-pointers.

The loss drops the Lady Toppers to 24-9 overall as their season concludes. Both Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown have officially concluded their careers at WKU.

“There’s no other place I’d rather be, no other coach I’d rather be playing for these past four years,” Ivy Brown said. “And no other best friend I’d rather have to be playing with. It’s been really fun, and really enjoyable.”

Oregon State will play the winner of the University of Tennessee and Liberty University on Sunday in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Sports reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 502-648-7190 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.