Hoosiers up next at home for Lady Tops

Sam Porter

U women’s basketball team will host a top-25 ranked team in a pivotal non-conference matchup.

Last season, the Lady Toppers upset then 16th-ranked University of Louisville by a score of 71-69 thanks to a Kayla Smith basket with just 34 seconds to play.

This Saturday, the Lady Tops welcome 23rd ranked Indiana University Bloomington to Diddle Arena in what is expected to be a very competitive battle.

After losing in the Conference USA tournament in heartbreaking fashion a year ago, the Lady Tops missed the NCAA tournament despite a 27-7 record.

Redshirt senior and defending C-USA player of the year Kendall Noble said she hopes winning an out-of-conference game like this will help the Lady Tops’ chances of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

“These kinds of games are going to be really big for us,” Noble said before the season started. “It’s going to give us a chance to prove ourselves and give us an opportunity to get an at-large bid, so there’s not so much pressure going into the conference tournament like last year.”

So far in 2016, the Lady Hoosiers are 2-0 with average margins of victory of 33.5 points and travel to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga tonight before traveling to Bowling Green on Saturday.

Last year, Indiana finished 21-12(12-6 Big 10) and defeated the University of Georgia before falling to the University of Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Junior guard Tyra Buss poses as the toughest challenge for the Lady Tops.

Last season, Buss led Indiana averaging 18.7 points per game while becoming the first player at Indiana since 2006 to earn first team Big-10 honors.

In a 94-61 win against Vanderbilt University this past Sunday, Buss became the fastest player in Lady Hoosier history to eclipse 1,000 career points.

Getting the challenge of guarding Buss will likely be Noble, who will hope her 5’11 frame will be able to slow down the 5’8 Lady Hoosier star.

Last season, Noble averaged 18 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.6 steals per game en route to winning C-USA player of the year.

On top of winning overall player of the year last season, Noble also defended her C-USA defensive player of the year after winning the award during the 2015-16 season.

She became just the fourth player in conference history to win both player of the year as well as defensive player of the year.

The Noble vs. Buss battle will definitely be one of the more intriguing matchups as Noble will be one of the tougher defenders Buss will face in the Lady Hoosiers’ out-of-conference schedule.

Also leading the Lady Hoosiers is junior forward Amanda Cahill.

The Clyde, Ohio, native was second behind Buss last season in scoring averaging 14.7 points per game.

She also ranked sixth in the Big 10 Conference in rebounds per game (8.5) while earning second team All-Big 10 honors.

At six foot two, Cahill will stand taller than any player on WKU’s starting five.

Getting the assignment of matching up with Cahill will either be junior forward Ivy Brown or junior forward Tashia Brown, who both are listed just one inch smaller than Cahill’s.

The Lady Tops and Lady Hoosiers are set to tip off at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Diddle Arena.

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