Lady Toppers roll past FIU, move to 3-0 in conference play

WKU junior Kayla Smith (32) shoots a deep three pointer during WKU’s game vs. Notre Dame on Nov 14, 2017 in E.A. Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers lost 78-65.

Tyler Mansfield

Behind big performances by a handful of players, the WKU women’s basketball team earned another Conference USA win on Thursday evening, rolling to a lopsided 101-47 win over Florida International in Diddle Arena to conclude its four-game homestand with four straight victories.

Tashia Brown, Ivy Brown, Raneem Elgedawy, Dee Givens and Sherry Porter all finished in double figures, and the Lady Toppers (12-4 overall, 3-0 C-USA) dominated from start to finish. WKU never allowed the Panthers (4-12, 1-2) to get into a rhythm. WKU’s win marked its 14th consecutive over a league opponent in Bowling Green. It was the first time WKU scored 100 points in a game under coach Michelle Clark-Heard.

“It feels pretty good. I’m really happy for our players,” Clark-Heard said. “I’m constantly on them and constantly pushing because I want to be able to have games like this so they can have fun and different people can step up and understand and know how good they can be. There was so many people that did a lot of great things for us.”

Tashia finished with a game-high 23 points, while Ivy scored 22 and pulled down 14 rebounds. Elgedawy had 13 points and a career-high 23 boards, Givens scored 16 and grabbed 10 rebounds and Porter added 13 points.

Ivy’s 14 rebounds moved her into 10th on WKU’s career rebounding list, while Elgedawy’s 23 were the third-most in a single game in WKU history.

“That was pretty awesome – I don’t think I’ve played with anybody that’s got 23 rebounds,” Ivy Brown said of Elgedawy. “As a freshman, that’s huge. I’m real proud of her and it just shows all the hard work she’s done in practice. Hopefully she can just carry that over into more games.”

WKU came out of the gate firing on all cylinders and took a quick 10-0 lead over FIU. At the 5:20 mark of the first quarter, the Lady Toppers were shooting 4-of-7 from the field as Porter already had four of their 10 points.

“I think the game started off where Sherry set the tone for the momentum,” Clark-Heard said. “She just keeps finding a way to do a lot of things. She had four assists and a steal. I’m just really proud of her.”

Despite shooting just 2-of-13 at the time, FIU responded and cut its deficit to 12-7 at the three-minute mark after WKU suddenly lost its rhythm and the Panthers made numerous free throws. But Tashia Brown then scored four straight points to give the Lady Toppers a 19-8 lead after one.

Using a 7-0 run to open the second, WKU pushed its advantage to 26-8 at the 8:32 mark after a 3-pointer by Givens. A score by Tashia inside after she pulled down an offensive rebound then gave the Lady Toppers a 20 point lead – their largest of the game – with 8:03 remaining in the first half.

“I think she was big again for us,” Ivy said of Givens. “Dee started out on defense and then let her offense carry over it. She rebounded huge and we need another person like that to rebound for us. For her to come in and do that, we just need her to carry that over and be consistent in the rest of the games as well.”

Back-to-back baskets by Brown and Elgedawy put WKU up 34-10. Soon after, Porter converted an and-one and then scored on a turnaround jumper to give her nine points and help the Lady Toppers build a 41-13 lead at the 3:39 mark.

WKU shot 45 percent from the floor in the opening half, and outscored FIU 30-10 in the second to take a 49-18 lead into the locker room at halftime. Tashia had 17 points, while Elgedawy was up to nine points and 16 rebounds. Porter had nine points and three assists.

WKU stayed in total control throughout the second half.

“I was really proud that we kept playing and kept doing the things we needed to,” said Clark-Heard. “Across the board, this was a really, really good win for us. I think it’ll help a lot confidence wise for our bench that’s continuing to keep getting better.”

Elgedawy’s score inside – and a pair of free throws by Tashia – moved WKU’s advantage to 64-28 with 5:26 remaining in the third quarter. It then changed to 69-28 following a 3-pointer from the left corner by Ivy Brown before the Lady Toppers carried a 71-30 lead into the fourth.

In front by a comfortable margin, WKU was able to cruise through the final quarter and earn a 47-point win to remain perfect in C-USA play.

The Lady Toppers now travel to Birmingham, Alabama where they’ll face Alabama-Birmingham – a team that is 7-0 at home this year – on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

“We just need to do what we do best and follow the game plan, play hard and play defense,” Ivy said.

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