Newcomers shine for Lady Toppers in Hysteria scrimmage

Tyler Mansfield

The WKU women’s basketball team didn’t rebuild — it just reloaded.

Head coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s 2017-18 Lady Toppers were introduced for the first time Friday at WKU’s annual basketball tipoff event, Hilltopper Hysteria. The new-look Lady Topper club consists of seven newcomers – five freshmen, a sophomore and a transfer.

With a roster full of new faces – and one that doesn’t include names like Kendall Noble and Micah Jones – it could be challenging for many attempting to predict how the Lady Tops would fare in their debut in front of Hilltopper Nation.

It may have only been a scrimmage, but from the looks of a 15-minute showcase, the Lady Toppers have a group that’s more than capable of putting together another successful season.

“Just to get out here in front of our fans and show them how we’ve been practicing the last few weeks was fun,” senior forward Ivy Brown said. “We have like six or seven [newcomers], so just for the fans to see a little bit of them and preview what we’re gonna be like is good.”

The fans got to see not a little – but a lot – from the newcomers, as it was the play from multiple new faces that caught the eyes of those in Diddle.

Freshman guard Nichel Tampa led all scorers with 11 points and three rebounds and led helped carry the White team past the Black team, 38-29. Tampa showed that she is a smooth guard who can see the floor, move the ball around and create plays for her teammates. The Alpharetta, Georgia, native also presented her ball handling skills and how dominant she is when attacking the basket.

“Nichel is a really great point guard,” junior guard Sidnee Bopp said. “She’s definitely gonna be great for us this year. [All of the newcomers] are adjusting great. They’ve really stepped up since the summer.”

Along with Tampa, 6-foot-4 freshman forward Raneem Elgedawy showcased her athleticism inside the paint throughout the night. Brown said that WKU is a little undersized, but with the help of Elgedawy, the size problem isn’t really a big factor for the Lady Toppers.

The Alexandria, Egypt, native finished with 10 points and four rebounds to be WKU’s second leading scorer. Her length gives her an advantage on opponents when making moves in the lane and attempting to score under the goal. Near the halfway point of Friday’s scrimmage, the freshman caught a pass near the free-throw line and euro-stepped her way through the paint before laying it in.

“A lot,” Brown said when asked how much she expects out of Elgedawy this season. “I’m really excited for her to get on the court and get some experience under her belt. She’s doing really well. She’s really impressed me the last couple of weeks in practice, so I’m excited for her.”

As Brown is one of the main leaders of WKU’s team, Bopp will play a much larger role this year. She came alive near the latter part of the Lady Toppers’ 2016-17 campaign and proved herself with consistent 3-point shooting and hard-nosed defense and is carrying that over into her junior season.

“It’s a little bit different, but I’m ready for it,” Bopp said. “Last year taught me a lot, and it has carried over. I’m just ready to get on the court and play some games.”

WKU opens its season with an exhibition against Union (Tenn.) at Diddle Arena Nov. 2.

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