Lady Tops cruise past Florida Atlantic in C-USA opener

Redshirt senior guard Kendall Noble (12) drives to the basket while Indiana University’s guard Karlee McBride (21) and forward Kym Roster (11) guard her during the Lady Topper’s 85-74 win Nov. 19, 2016 in Diddle Arena. Evan Boggs/HERALD

Sam Porter

The WKU women’s basketball team hosted Florida Atlantic (4-8, 0-1 C-USA) Friday night in the C-USA opener for both teams. Four different Lady Toppers scored in double figures as WKU (9-4, 1-0) cruised to a 76-55 victory to begin conference play 1-0.

Redshirt senior guard Kendall Noble and redshirt junior forward Kyvin Goodin-Rogers both tallied a game-high 13 points.

WKU also out-rebounded FAU 52-30 as Ivy Brown pulled down 14 rebounds which was a career high for her in a C-USA game.

“Rebounding was definitely something we talked about coming into this game,” head coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “Florida Atlantic came in out rebounding their opponents coming into this game. We’re not the biggest team so I always talk about how everyone has to crash the board and get rebounds. What can I say about Ivy Brown? She had 14 rebounds and eight of them were offensive rebounds.”

It didn’t take long for the Lady Tops to get things going.

After an offensive foul on Florida Atlantic, Goodin-Rogers drained a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the game. Shortly after, redshirt senior guard Micah Jones also drained a three pointer to give the Lady Tops an early 6-0 lead. The two teams would continue to trade buckets as WKU held a 24-16 lead entering the second quarter.

That’s when WKU began to pull away. Noble scored six of her 13 points during a 20-6 run that gave the Lady Tops a 44-23 lead late in the second quarter. With just 42 seconds remaining until halftime, Noble found redshirt sophomore guard Jaycee Coe for a three-pointer that ended up giving WKU a 47-25 halftime lead. Coe finished the game with 12 points of 4-8 from three point range.

“I think our familiarity with each other on the floor is getting better,” Heard said about her team’s ball movement. “I credit Jaycee’s teammates. When Jaycee comes into the game, they look for her. They know where she likes to shoot it from and they get it to her in that spot.”

The two teams battled back and forth in the third quarter, as the Lady Owls desperately tried to dig into the double-digit deficit. Florida Atlantic was able to cut the 22-point halftime deficit to 18 late in the third quarter. However, Noble found Coe who hit her fourth and final three of the game just before the buzzer to push the lead back to 21 entering the fourth quarter.

“We talked about playing complete games a lot over the break,” Ivy Brown said. “We played a lot of good quarters in the non-conference but we never really put it together for 40 minutes. We really talked about coming and staying focused especially in the third quarter coming out of halftime with a big lead. I thought we did a good job of that.”

The Lady Owls never got closer than 18 points in the final quarter as WKU held on for a 76-55 victory.

The Lady Tops will host Florida International (2-10, 0-1 C-USA) at Diddle Arena on Sunday at 2 p.m.

“They gave us a game down there last year that we barely won,” Clark-Heard said of FIU. “They have some guards that can shoot it and a big player who can rebound and score very well. We have to make sure that we’re ready.”