WKU to face Southern Miss in second C-USA game

Lady Toppers forward Ivy Brown (23) and Marshall University forward Talequia Hamilton (0) fight for a rebound during the Lady Toppers’ 73-57 win over Marshall University on Saturday Jan. 21, 2016 at E.A. Diddle arena.

Tyler Mansfield

Fresh off a win over Middle Tennessee to open Conference USA play, WKU returns to action Saturday at 2 p.m. as it hosts Southern Mississippi inside Diddle Arena in a rematch of the 2017 C-USA Tournament championship.

The Lady Toppers (10-4 overall, 1-0 C-USA) earned a 57-43 victory over MTSU behind a strong all-around defensive outing. WKU forced 18 turnovers and turned those takeaways into 18 points on the opposite end of the court. The WKU defense also held the Blue Raiders to 33 percent shooting on the night, as they made just 13 shots.

Thanks to 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists from Tashia Brown, 10 points and 11 rebounds from Ivy Brown and 10 points from Sidnee Bopp, the Lady Toppers won their fourth straight over MTSU for the first time since 2003-2004.

“We couldn’t throw a ball in the ocean if the ocean was sitting right there,” WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard said following the win. “But you know what? That’s okay. I’ve been on this team so much about defense, and man, the way we played [Thursday] – just our pressure, our helping, just everything. It was great team basketball.”

Southern Miss (8-6, 0-1) lost 66-56 at Charlotte on Thursday in its conference opener. It was a game in which Charlotte built a comfortable lead in the first half and, despite making quite a second half comeback, the Lady Eagles couldn’t complete it.

In its setback, Southern Miss was led by Jayla King, who recorded her sixth double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. On the year, King is leading the Lady Eagles with 15.9 points and 8.1 boards per game. Along with King, Megan Brown finished with 20 points and is averaging 11.1 PPG.

Following their win over MTSU, WKU got just one day off between their first two conference battles.

“They’ll get back and get their legs together and, of course, we’re used to this,” Clark-Heard said of the quick turnaround. “We played in the tournament where we did the same thing and tried to prepare. They’ll be ready with the scout and we’ll be smart with what we do because of the minutes that we played.

“At the end of the day, this is how it’s gonna be for the rest of the season.”

In the 2017 C-USA Tournament championship game, WKU won 67-56 over Southern Miss after also winning 79-53 over the Lady Eagles in the regular season. The Lady Toppers have also won four straight in the series.

Saturday’s game can be watched on Fox College Sports and listened to on 102.7 FM in Bowling Green.

Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at 270-935-0007 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @_TylerMansfield.