Lady Toppers travel to North Texas, LA Tech this weekend

WKU senior forward Tashia Brown (10) drives in for a layup during WKU’s game vs Notre Dame on Nov 14, 2017 in E.A. Diddle Arena. WKU lost 65-78.

Tyler Mansfield

Off to a 5-1 start in Conference USA play, the WKU women’s basketball team will look to add another pair of wins to its league record this weekend, as it travels to North Texas and Louisiana Tech for matchups on Friday and Sunday.

WKU (14-5 overall, 5-1 C-USA), currently ranked No. 57 in the latest NCAA RPI, returns to its road trip after winning 86-66 at Marshall on Sunday. In the win over the Thundering Herd, the Lady Toppers shot 50 percent from the field, outrebounded Marshall 46-24, and outscored the Thundering Herd 29-19 in the fourth quarter en route to the big victory.

“We just want to continue doing the things we’re doing good,” WKU head coach Michelle Clark-Heard said Wednesday. “I feel like we’ve shot the ball pretty well, we’ve rebounded, we’ve gone to the free-throw line and made our free throws, and we take care of the basketball. We’re going to continue to keep working on those things to be able to win on the road.”

Senior guard Tashia Brown registered one of her strongest performances of 2017-18 with a season-high 33 points on 10-of-19 shooting from the field, which moved her into 10th place on WKU’s all-time scoring list.

“It’s truly a blessing to even be mentioned with the legends that came before and paved the way,” Tashia Brown said of her scoring accomplishment. “It’s just a great feeling to be able to be in the conversation.”

Three other Lady Toppers scored in double figures. Freshman forward Raneem Elgedawy scored 15 points with nine rebounds, senior forward Ivy Brown recorded her 10th double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore guard Dee Givens added 14 points, with 11 of those coming in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Toppers’ first stop on the weekend trip will be in Denton, Texas, where they’ll meet a defensive-minded North Texas team at 7 p.m. Friday. The Mean Green (11-7, 2-4) are currently in 10th place in the C-USA standings, while sitting at No. 218 in the NCAA RPI.

After recording wins over Old Dominion and Charlotte, North Texas has since dropped back-to-back games. UNT lost 56-48 at Middle Tennessee on Jan. 18 and then fell 68-52 on Jan. 20 at Alabama-Birmingham, but Heard still emphasizes that the Mean Green are a stout defensive club.

“I just think they’re really aggressive,” Clark-Heard said. “They guard really hard on the ball, they get deflections, they rebound. They’re just aggressive. They’ll press some and that’s the staple of who they are. They really make sure they get stops and hold people to a certain amount of points.”

The Mean Green are led by the duo of redshirt junior guard Terriell Bradley (17.4 points per game) and freshman guard Lauren Holmes (10.2 PPG), who average a combined 27.6 PPG.

WKU will conclude its three-game road swing with a matchup at Louisiana Tech on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Lady Techsters (12-7, 3-3) are two spots ahead of North Texas in the league standings at eighth and come in at No. 194 in the NCAA RPI.

LA Tech is coming off back-to-back losses at Florida International and Florida Atlantic and will host Old Dominion on Friday before welcoming in WKU.

The Lady Techsters have three players scoring in double figures, as redshirt senior forward Alexus Malone leads the pack with 13.6 PPGand 8.7 rebounds per game. Junior guard Kierra Anthony follows with 12.7 PPG, while junior guard Taylor Stahly is scoring 11.1 per night.

Following this weekend’s games, WKU will return to Bowling Green to host Florida Atlantic on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m.

“I love this group because they’re just doing whatever it takes for us to be successful,” said Clark-Heard. “Everybody is happy for each other when someone does something great.”

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