Lady Tops look to get back on track against Austin Peay

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 will travel to Clarksville, Tennessee, this Saturday for a matchup against former Ohio Valley Conference rival Austin Peay University.

The Lady Toppers (3-3 as of publication) will look to get back on track after losing two out of three games in the Gulf Coast Showcase last weekend.

Although the Lady Governors boast a 4-3 record (as of publication), they won’t be favored to win this matchup.

Two out of the four teams Austin Peay has defeated compete at the division II level with their lone wins against Division 1 teams coming against the University Arkansas Pine-Bluff and Arkansas State University who are a combined 0-9 (as of publication) on the season.

Last season, the Lady Tops defeated Austin Peay 88-69 in Bowling Green.

The Lady Governors are led by senior center Tearra Banks.

Banks, a Louisville native and graduate of Ballard High School, leads Austin Peay with 14.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

She is the lone player on the team averaging double figures this season. Look for the Lady Governors to get the ball to their senior leader early and often in a game where she may be matched up against a true freshman.

Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard has started freshman forward Sarah Price four out of six games this season when the other team’s strength tends to be underneath.

Despite being a true freshman, Price’s 6’2 frame makes her the tallest player on the Lady Topper squad and often the best matchup against an opponent’s tallest player.

She is currently averaging 3.2 points per game, 1.7 rebounds and 13.7 minutes per game in her inaugural season.

If Clark-Heard decides not to start Price, look for Banks to be matched up with junior forward Tashia Brown or junior forward Ivy Brown who both match up well in terms of size and experience.

Although the Lady Tops struggled in the Gulf Coast Showcase last weekend, Tashia Brown was beast as she recorded a double-double in all three games. Look for her to continue her hot hand in this out of conference matchup.

Although the strength of the Lady Governors is underneath, expect the Lady Tops to try to expose the Austin Peay backcourt. Clark-Heard said before the season she wanted to be able to apply pressure to other team’s backcourts defensively because of the strength of her guards.

Austin Peay’s backcourt features junior guard Bri Williams(7.7 PPG) and sophomore guard Keisha Gregory(4.3 PPG).

Gregory is making her debut year in the starting lineup while Williams is making her debut year in the starting lineup after transferring from Gulf State Community College.

The two inexperienced guards will be facing one of their toughest match ups of the season when they face the WKU backcourt.

Redshirt senior Kendall Noble leads the Lady Tops as the defending Conference USA player of the year and two time Conference USA defensive player of the year.

In her fifth and final campaign as a Lady Topper, she’s currently second on the team in points (14.5 PPG), rebounds (7.0 RPG) assists (2.5 APG) and leads the team in steals.

Also joining Noble in the backcourt is redshirt senior guard Micah Jones who is slowly but surely getting back to 100 percent after sitting out last season with a torn ACL.

The Lady Tops may even go to a full-court press right off the bat to try to expose an inexperienced backcourt that has struggled to put points on the board.

Doing this will primarily keep Lady Governor offense from setting up to feed the ball into Banks which appears to be the only major scoring threat on their roster.

WKU and Austin Peay will tip-off at 12 p.m. on Saturday in the Dunn Center in Clarksville.

Reporter Sam Porter can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @SammyP14.