After suffering an upset by Marshall in last March’s Conference USA Tournament quarterfinals, the WKU women’s basketball team got its revenge in the first meeting of this season against the Thundering Herd, notching a 73-57 victory in E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday afternoon.
“You know, it’s always in the back of your head, but it’s just another game and another chance to put us in a good opportunity for the conference standings and another opportunity for ourselves to get better,” junior forward Ivy Brown said of the loss to Marshall last season . “A lot of people stepped up today and we need that every single day.”
The Lady Toppers (14-5 overall, 6-1 C-USA) forced 17 Marshall turnovers as the Thundering Herd fell to 11-6 on the year and under .50o percent in league play at 3-4.
Brown led the charge for WKU with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 7 rebounds. Along with Brown’s big day, redshirt senior guard Kendall Noble dropped 17 points, grabbed 6 rebounds and dished out 6 assists for the Lady Toppers, who won closed out their three-game homestand with a fourth-straight victory.
“I think every game in the conference is a big win,” head coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “Just because they’re hard to come by and this is a tough conference. At the end of the day, what we want to make sure we’re doing is protecting our home court.”
Western Kentucky came out of the gates on a fast start.
Noble scored an open layup off an Ivy Brown screen just seven seconds into the game and put the Lady Toppers on the scoreboard first. Their fast start helped them jump out to an early 7-0 lead at the 8:16 mark of the opening quarter. At the time, redshirt junior forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers had five out of the seven points for WKU.
Marshall would respond and score nine points to Western’s two over the course of the next couple of minutes, but the Lady Toppers still had an advantage. Leading by five at 18-13 with under a minute remaining in the quarter, the Thundering Herd’s redshirt junior guard McKenzie Akers’ would knock down a top-of-the-key three-pointer and cut WKU’s lead to 18-16 after the first period of play.
Just 15 seconds into the second, Marshall’s senior guard Kiana Evans’ three to open the quarter gave it its first lead of the day and then redshirt senior forward Talequia Hamilton scored inside to make it 21-18 at the 8:18 mark of the quarter. Just over a minute later, the Lady Tops would get back in front on a layup from Ivy Brown, as the scoreboard read 22-21.
WKU would go on to score four-straight following Brown’s bucket, which increased its run to 8-0. The Hodgenville, Kentucky native was up to 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting and four rebounds to carry the Lady Toppers. WKU went on another run of 7-0 throughout the final minutes of the quarter and led 40-27 after two periods.
The Lady Toppers went 15-of-35 from the floor in the first 20 minutes and forced 12 Marshall turnovers.
“We talked a lot this week about our defense and carrying it over to this game and every game” Clark-Heard noted. “I think the staff and I felt like that last game we played really well defensively and so we just kept really talking about it and bringing our energy and intensity.”
Brown led the way for Western Kentucky at halftime with 14 points and five rebounds. The Herd, as a whole, shot 11-of-25 from the floor in the first half.
The Lady Tops opened the second half with a big three from Brown and a free-throw from Goodin-Rogers and shortly led by 17 points at the 8:01 mark of the third quarter.
Marshall wasn’t going anywhere, though, as it wouldn’t allow WKU to reach an advantage larger than 17 in the period and trailed by just 11 at 54-43 entering the final quarter of the affair.
The Lady Toppers opened the fourth with back-to-back threes from Noble and junior forward Tashia Brown and regained its 17-point lead, as the scoreboard reads 60-43 with 8:37 left to play.
“I think everyone is playing real hard and doing what we’re supposed to do and it’s just a total team effort,” Noble stated.
Western would go on to outscore the Thundering Herd 19-14 in the fourth and recorded a revenge win.
WKU returns to action on Thursday on the road at UTEP, with tipoff scheduled for 8:05 p.m.
“Yeah – that’s gonna be the tough part,” Noble added in regards to now playing away from home. “This is gonna be a tough road swing in Texas but the coaches are gonna prepare us and I think we’ll be ready.”
-Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @RealTMansfield.-