Lady Topper duo shines on senior day finale

WKU guard Kendall Noble (12) goes up for a shot against Old Dominion player Rhaven Kemp (0) in a game against Old Dominion University on February 25, 2017 in Diddle Arena.

Sam Porter

In their final game in E.A. Diddle Arena, redshirt senior guards Kendall Noble and Micah Jones made it apparent that they weren’t going to be content leaving the floor without a victory.

The duo combined for 39 points as WKU held off Old Dominion 79-73 on their senior day. The two seniors currently boast 125 wins since coming to the program in 2012.

“I’m so glad we figured out a way to get the win so they could finish out here in style,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said after the game. “It’s an emotional time for me because when I first got the job, we were pretty low as a program. Getting Kendall and Micah here and seeing what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve elevated this program is remarkable. They’ve been involved in 125 wins. That is a lot of wins. I’m just proud to have the opportunity to coach young ladies like this.”

Clark-Heard took over the program in 2012 after the the team went just 10-21 the year before. Jones and Noble were part of Heard’s 2012 recruiting class to help Clark-Heard reverse the WKU program and get it moving in the right direction. During their five years together, the trio of Clark-Heard, Noble and Jones have been involved in five 20-win seasons, two conference championships, two NCAA tournament appearances and two appearances in the WNIT.

This past Saturday, the trio celebrated their final game in E.A. Diddle Arena following their final victory at home.

“She’s my best friend. We’ve been through a lot together,” Noble said about Jones.

“It’s been a long a five years with a lot of ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

It didn’t take long for Jones to find her groove in the home finale. With an early 5-2 lead, the Greensburg, Kentucky, native hit her first of six three-pointers in the game to push the lead to six points. Jones helped WKU push the lead to as many as nine in the first half.

Right before halftime, Jones banked in a three that gave the Lady Tops an eight-point advantage heading into the locker room. With a 45-37 lead early in the third quarter, Jones hit back-to-back threes to give WKU its first double-digit lead of the afternoon

“Seeing a couple of shots go in always helps my confidence,” Jones said after the game. “My teammates and coaches are always telling me to keep shooting. I haven’t shot the best this year and hearing them gave me confidence and it paid off.”

Jones hit consecutive threes midway through the third quarter, giving WKU its first double-digit lead of the afternoon. While it didn’t take long for Jones to find her rhythm, Noble entered the locker room scoreless at the half on 0-4 shooting.

After a scoreless first half, Noble scored on a layup that stretched the Lady Topper lead to 13 points. The layup sparked an 18-point burst in 18 minutes to end Noble’s final game in Diddle Arena. The Lady Monarchs never got closer than six points in the final quarter as WKU held on for the six-point victory.

“I pulled Noble to the side at halftime and I could tell she was a little frustrated,” Clark-Heard said. “I told her this will be your last time this crowd gets to see you. You have to relax and do what you do. Myself and the staff knew we just had to get her going.”

With the senior day victory, the Lady Tops improve to 14-2 in C-USA. With one victory in their final two road games, the Lady Tops will lock up the C-USA regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Conference tournament. With three wins in the Conference tournament, Noble and Jones will clinch their third NCAA tournament appearance as a duo.

“Every game with her is awesome,” Noble said about playing with Jones.

“She’s always been there for me and I try to do the same for her. I hope we finish the year strong. I don’t want it to end, but when it does I want to be able to go out on top.”

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-799-8247and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.