Lady Toppers roll to 92-54 win over Evansville

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

WKU was happy to be back home.

After not playing a home game in 16 days, the Lady Toppers returned to Diddle Arena on Thursday evening and put on a show for their home crowd, dominating from start to finish to roll to a 92-54 win over Evansville.

“It was really awesome,” WKU head coach Michelle Clark-Heard said about being back in Bowling Green instead of on the road. “I was really happy for the girls to be able to practice here and not have to leave and go on the road. Just today in shootaround I knew they were excited.”

WKU shot 51 percent from the field on the night – including a 52 percent showing in the first half – and had 10 different players score at least two points or more. The Lady Toppers (4-3 overall) outrebounded the Purple Aces (2-3) 46-30 and forced 21 turnovers.

Tashia Brown and Raneem Elgedawy recorded big outings for WKU, scoring 20 and 19 points with six and 10 rebounds, respectively. Along with that duo, Ivy Brown – despite foul trouble – finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards while freshman Sherry Porter scored 16 with seven assists in her second collegiate start.

“It means a lot,” Porter said of the way she performed. “It just shows that coach trusts me, my teammates trust me and the captains trust me. I just went out there and played hard and let the game come to me. I’ve just gotta keep that up and continue to do that throughout the season.”

WKU quickly jumped out to a 7-0 lead just 80 seconds into the game.

Whitney Creech recorded the game’s first points on a three pointer from the right wing before Porter and Elgedawy each scored their first baskets shortly after. At that point, Evansville had already committed a pair of turnovers.

The Lady Toppers’ advantage soon moved to 19-3 at the 2:46 mark of the first after a Dee Givens layup. After one quarter of play, WKU held a commanding 24-7 lead as seven different Lady Toppers had scores and it had forced nine early turnovers.

“I think we came out and jumped on it early and then continued to play well,” Ivy Brown said. “We had a little lapse in the third quarter but in that fourth quarter we went back to playing aggressive on defense and that really helped us.”

Evansville’s Hannah Noe started to heat up in the second and helped cut WKU’s lead to 31-16 at the 6:57 mark. On three straight possessions, Noe hit three consecutive three pointers – all from the right wing and corner – to keep the Purple Aces from falling further behind but WKU responded.

WKU went on to outscore Evansville 21-10 throughout the remainder of the period to go up 52-26 entering the locker room at halftime. At the break, Tashia Brown and Elgedawy each had 11 points while Ivy Brown had 10 and seven rebounds.

“She’s just a phenomenal young lady,” said Clark-Heard of Elgedawy. “She wants to be great, she is very hard on herself when she doesn’t do well and we go back and watch film and we talk. She’s very good at coming back the next day and working on whatever she has to change. She was very aggressive tonight in wanting the ball.”

The Lady Toppers shot 52 percent (22-of-42) in the half and outrebounded the Purple Aces 25-11.

Evansville got within 20 points at the 5:20 mark of the third after a three from Kerri Gasper but Tashia Brown scored on a fastbreak layup at the other end to put the Lady Toppers back up by 20 at 58-38. The Lady Toppers were up 73-49 entering the final quarter.

Clark-Heard used her bench in the fourth as her club held Evansville to five points and cruised to the big victory.

WKU now has nine days away from game play, as it doesn’t return to action until Dec. 10 with a trip to Southern Illinois.

“This game helped prepare us for the next game and the next game after that,” Heard said. “So no matter the score – I tell them all the time to not play the score, you have to play that possession – and I think we took some possessions off. We’ve gotta get better at some things.”

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