Lady Topper Legends finish career in Diddle Arena

WKU forward Tashia Brown (10) shoots for two against forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers (15) during the Lady Toppers 83-61 win over University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 at Diddle Arena. Brown had nine rebounds during her her 37 minutes on the court.

Alec Jessie

WKU’s senior night win over UNC Charlotte featured a perfect ending to senior forward Tashia Brown’s career in Diddle Arena, as she scored a career-high 38 points.

Women’s basketball head coach Michelle Clark-Heard couldn’t contain her happiness or praise for Tashia Brown’s final home performance.

“I’m just really glad she was able to finish out her career like that,” Clark-Heard said after Friday’s win. “She’s just special. She plays hard all the time. She’s very coachable. She’s one of the best teammates anyone could ever ask for.”

The 6-1 guard from Lake Park, Georgia, progressed each year with the Lady Toppers. Coming into her senior season, Tashia Brown never averaged more than 20 points or five rebounds per game. But in the 2017-18 season, she has tallied career highs in points and rebounds per game with 23.3 PPG and 5.4 RPG. For her career, she has scored 1,961 points on 42.5 percent shooting, good for 15.2 PPG.

Coming into the game, Tashia Brown’s previous career high was 34 points against Old Dominion University Feb. 18, 2016.

When asked if she knew about Crystal Kelly’s record-setting 42 point performance, and if she was chasing it, Brown claimed she was just focused on the game itself.

“I was just playing,” Tashia Brown said. “I didn’t even know what I had at halftime until they said something to me in the locker room. I wasn’t really trying to go for a certain amount of points.”

Clark-Heard said no one planned for Tashia Brown’s scoring outburst, but told her to take what the defense gives her.

“I just talked to her about being aggressive and seeing how they were going to play her,” Clark-Heard said. “See every game we go in, she never knows what’s going to happen.”

While Tashia Brown lit up the scoreboard, Ivy Brown watched most of the action. The skilled forward played only 19 minutes in the game and just one minute in the first half after she picked up two quick fouls.

But the senior leader didn’t hang her head and came out strong in the second half. She finished with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting and five rebounds, with almost all of that production coming in the second half.

Clark-Heard loved Brown’s toughness, calling it her identity as a player and person.

“That’s what she is,” Clark-Heard said after the game. “If Ivy’s name was in the dictionary, beside her name would be hardest worker and tough. That’s what she is and what she does every single day.”

Even though she was frustrated while sitting the first half, Brown was happy with her teammates’ performance.

“I sat on the bench for the longest first half of my entire life, but it was nice to see the team go out and play well.” Brown said.

The 6-1 forward from Hodgenville made her mark on the Lady Toppers with her versatility and efficiency. To go along with a career high 16.2 PPG, she also registered over two steals per game and one block per game on defense. A career 48 percent shooter from the floor and 80 percent shooter from the free-throw line, Ivy Brown was a super efficient scorer and near-automatic inside the paint.

Clark-Heard said she is appreciative of the two seniors for taking a chance on the Lady Toppers program and sticking with it for four years.

“When we really weren’t winning big, like we are now, Ivy Brown took a chance on us,” Clark-Heard said. “Then you have Tashia Brown as well and you look at what those two have done for this program.”

Clark-Heard also praised them for how unique and selfless they have been while at WKU.

“We’ve never had players like them here,” Clark-Heard said. “They’re the most unselfish players I’ve ever been around. They’re so selfless, so loving, so caring.”

After the game, they both fought back tears as they thanked the Diddle crowd for their support the last four years.

While the days in Diddle are over for Ivy and Tashia Brown, they still have unfinished business on the court. With two regular season games left and the regular season Conference USA Championship at stake, there is still plenty of basketball in a Lady Toppers uniform left for those two.

But regardless of what the season’s conclusion may have in store, Ivy and Tashia Brown will be among the most beloved players to ever put on a WKU uniform.

Sports reporter Alec Jessie can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow Alec on Twitter at @Alec_Jessie.