Top Seeded Lady Tops Down the Mean Green

Red shirt senior Kendall Noble (12) drives for the basket past Old Dominion guard Gianna Smith (5) during the Lady Topper’s 79-73 win over Old Dominion on Saturday Feb. 25, 2017 in Diddle Arena.

Matthew Stewart

Last year the Lady Topper basketball team had their season cut short in Birmingham, Alabama.

Even though they received a first round bye as they did last year, the outcomes in their C-USA Tournament opener were polar opposites.

In 2016, Marshall knocked off the Toppers 66-63. This time around, the Toppers tore down the Mean Green of North Texas 78-51.

“I’m really proud of them that we picked it up and were able to get in our flow in the second half, because I think we were a little tight in the beginning but that’s normal and natural,” Clark-Heard said.”The greatest thing about this team is that I feel like we have been in situations where they understand and know how to win on the road.”

The win marked the 25th win of the season for WKU, also the third straight season with 25 wins for the first time in program history.

Junior forward Tashia Brown was the catalyst for the Lady Tops scoring 24 points on 7-13 shooting. Brown filled the stat sheet with six rebounds, a block and a steal in 32 minutes of play. The Georgia native also finished the contest with a +28 player efficiency rating.

Speaking of player efficiency ratings, the unsung hero in the WKU win was without question sophomore guard Sidnee Bopp. Bopp finished with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.

“Her impact on our team has been incredible for the past three or four weeks,” Clark-Heard said. “She’s playing with a lot of confidence, her teammates are very confident in her and what she can do and she just plays a big spark to us. The greatest thing is she can handle the ball, she can shoot it and she plays defense. That’s something that has really added to us coming off the bench.”

They say defense wins championships, and Bopp was a defensive spark off the bench when the game was close in the second quarter. Bopp forced back-to-back defensive stops and knocked down a three ball shortly after to put the Toppers ahead.

Kendall Noble, a first team all-conference selection, was an asset to the Tops as she usually is. The senior went for another double with 19 points on 6-15 shooting and 10 rebounds. She also shot 7-7 at the free throw line. In the last three games Noble has been a force on the glass grabbing 29 boards. Noble, Brown and Bopp were the only three in red and white that finished with double figures.

The Lady Toppers will face off against Louisiana Tech in the semifinal matchup on Friday. Tip-off is set for 4:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the American Sports Network.