Lady Toppers defeat Marshall for 20th win of season

WKU forward Ivy Brown shoots a free-throw during WKU’s game vs. Old Dominion in E.A. Diddle Arena on Feb. 8 Brown fell short of a double-double, scoring 8 points and 10 rebounds.

Alec Jessie

The Lady Toppers put their 19-6 record on the line against a struggling Marshall University squad on Saturday, and came away with a 77-50 win.

Senior forward Ivy Brown led the Lady Toppers in scoring with 26 points. Freshman forward Raneem Elgedawy and Ivy Brown both posted double-doubles. Senior forward Tashia Brown also impressed with 21 points and five steals. Sophomore forward Dee Givens scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds off the bench.

Head coach Michelle Clark-Heard was all smiles after her 150th victory with the program, and loved the defensive intensity her girls played with.

“I was really proud of my defense” Clark-Heard said. “I’m proud of different people stepping up, playing the ball and switching to different defenses. I’m happy we locked in and found a way to get a good win.”

Marshall had won just two conference games coming in, but they came out strong on the offensive end. Marshall’s Taleqiua Hamilton scored five early points and Kristen Mayo added a 3-pointer to give the Thundering Herd an early 8-2 lead.

The Lady Toppers would shake off the poor start and take the lead midway through the half. An 8-0 run gave the Lady Toppers a 13-10 first quarter lead. They only gave up two points in the final six minutes of the quarter.

The Lady Toppers out-rebounded the Thundering Herd 14-6, but neither team shot well in the opening quarter with both teams under 40 percent from the floor.

“You never want your offense to dictate your defense” Ivy Brown said. “We weren’t great in the first half with our defense because our energy was a little low compared to what we want it to be. But we picked it up a lot in the second half.”

WKU continued its strong defense in the second quarter and opened up an eight-point lead, which forced a Marshall timeout. Marshall missed its last six field goals and didn’t make a field goal the last 6:52 of the half. Clark-Heard said afterwards that defense needed to be the focus regardless of offensive success.

“When we went to Middle, we weren’t focusing on if we made shots or not,” Clark-Heard said. “We were focusing on defense and rebounding. That’s something we have to make sure we continue to do because that’s the type of team we are.”

Tashia Brown got the scoring going for WKU with 12 points in just 19 minutes in the first half. The Lady Toppers played much more efficient down the stretch and took a 30-15 lead into halftime.

WKU’s defense led to offense to start the second half. The press got the best of Marshall, and both Tashia and Ivy Brown got to the free-throw line off steals. The Lady Toppers forced three turnovers in the first minute-and-a-half.

WKU would blow this game wide open later in the quarter. Ivy Brown had her fingerprints all over WKU’s 13-3 run in the quarter, with multiple steals and buckets.

WKU went into the final quarter with a massive 52-24 lead, outscoring the Thundering Herd 22-9 in the third quarter.

Marshall’s Shayna Gore tried to rally her troops in the final quarter, finishing with a team-high 22 points, but WKU cruised to a 77-50 win.

The Lady Toppers will look to carry the momentum of back-to-back wins into senior night on Friday in Diddle arena against UNC Charlotte. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. 

Reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.