Lady Tops squander late lead, fall to Louisville

Sam Porter

The WKU Women’s basketball team traveled to Louisville on Sunday afternoon, looking to defeat the Lady Cardinals for the second straight season in front of a crowd 9,168 people in the KFC Yum! Center.

For three quarters, it looked like Michelle Clark-Heard’s squad was well on its way to a second top-25 win this season as the Lady Tops led 52-44 heading into the final quarter. However, Louisville outscored WKU 24-9 in the fourth quarter en route to a 68-61 victory over the Lady Tops.

“I’m proud of my group but disappointed we came up on the short end,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said after the game.

“I have to give credit to Louisville. They made big shots and made big plays and came out with a win. Thats what a top 10 team in the country does.”

The official end of the first semester meant more than just winter break for the Lady Tops. For the first time as a Lady Topper, University of Kentucky transfer Kyvin Goodin-Rogers was finally eligible to play in a WKU uniform. The redshirt junior forward earned the start, and made her presence felt early. Trailing 6-3 early in the game, Goodin-Rogers nailed a three to tie the game, putting her name in the scorebook for the first time in a Lady Topper uniform.

“I’m just glad to be eligible,” Goodin-Rogers said about making her debut.

“I wasn’t expecting to start at first but coach said ‘You’ve been working hard at practice and we need you today.’ I felt very comfortable and was just happy to be out there.”

The two teams battled back and forth as the Lady Tops claimed a 16-14 lead after the first quarter. That’s when both teams found their stride from beyond the three point line. The two teams combined for seven three pointers in the second quarter, including three from Louisville guard Sydney Zambrotta who finished with a career high 15 points.

After the three-point fest, redshirt senior guard Kendall Noble’s bucket gave the Lady Tops a 38-32 lead going into the half. The two teams combined for 13 three pointers in the 1st half.

“If you watch us play, thats what we do. We shoot the three” Clark-Heard said after the game.

“When you’re an undersized team, what you have to do is play to your advantage. Our advantage is changing up defenses and making shots.”

In the 3rd quarter, the Lady Cardinals were the team that came out firing. An 8-0 Louisville run gave the Lady Cardinals a 42-38 lead as WKU was held scoreless for over four minutes. Needing a spark, redshirt sophomore guard Jaycee Coe delivered.

Coe drained three straight three pointers against her former arch rival to give the lead back to WKU. Coe’s spark highlighted a 14-2 Lady Topper that gave WKU a 52-44 lead headed into the fourth quarter.

However, Louisville came out firing to start final quarter as well. Junior forward Ivy Brown was forced to leave the game after being cut on her cheek. Brown’s injury left WKU at a size disadvantage, and that was a key reason why Louisville won the rebounding battle 41-25 and was able to outscore WKU 24-9 in the final period to escape with the victory.

“It really hurt us when Ivy went out,” Clark-Heard said about her team’s performance in the fourth quarter.

“They out rebounded us. We made some mental mistakes. The kids battled though. We were right there with four minutes to go. We have a lot of film we need to dissect.”

Ivy Brown led WKU with 12 points– all in the 1st half– while Tashia Brown had 11 to break double figures.

With the loss, WKU drops to 5-4 on the season and will host Lipscomb Thursday night in Diddle Arena.