Lady Tops lose two in tournament

Sophomore guard Kayla Smith (32) makes a break for the basket while Indiana Hoosiers junior forward Amanda Cahill (33) reaches for the ball during the Lady Toppers’ 85-74 win against Indiana University Saturday Nov. 19, 2016 at E.A. Diddle Arena.

Sam Porter

The WKU women’s basketball team traveled to Estero, Florida, this past weekend to compete in the Gulf Coast Showcase hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University.

In the tournament the Lady Tops fell to 18th ranked DePaul University 77-69 and defeated Kent State University 79-73 in overtime before dropping a 68-49 decision to George Washington University.

The eight-team tournament featured AP Top 25 teams such as fifth ranked Baylor University, eighth ranked Ohio State University, 11th ranked Syracuse university, as well as Florida Gulf Coast University.

After coming off a win over previously ranked Indiana University Bloomington, the Lady Tops were hoping to ride that momentum into a very competitive tournament.

Despite three double-doubles by junior forward Ivy Brown in the showcase, the Lady Tops lost two out of three games to finish sixth overall in the tournament and dropped to 3-3 on the season.

The Lady Tops opened the tournament looking for their second straight win over a top 25 ranked opponent against DePaul.

The Lady Tops jumped out to an early 11-4 lead thanks to 4 early points from freshman forward Sarah Price who made her second consecutive start.

However, DePaul hit two of their eight threes back to back to pull within one point early in the game. The Lady Tops led 19-15 after the first quarter, but a 8-0 Lady Deacon run to open the second quarter propelled DePaul to a 39-36 lead at the half.

DePaul’s Jessica January scored four of her 24 points to open the second half to extend the lead to 43-36, a lead the Lady Deacons never gave up.

The Lady Tops closed the gap to 61-60 after sophomore guard Sidnee Bopp nailed a bucket to make it a one-point game.

However, the Lady Deacons hit 10-11 free throws in the final quarter to pull away for a 77-69 victory. Redshirt senior Kendall Noble led the Lady Tops with 19 points while Tashia Brown tallied 12 points and 12 rebounds.

“When you look at the stats across the board, I think everything was pretty much even, but they made eight three-pointers and we made four,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard told the Bowling Green Daily News after the opening game. “There were some open shots that went in and out that were missed and they made some plays down the stretch. It was a really good game. I’m proud of the team and players, but we have to find a way to close that out.”

The Lady Tops found redemption on Saturday against Kent State in a consolation game. After falling behind 41-27 in the 3rd quarter, the Lady Tops began to find their groove.

Noble drained a three pointer and junior forward Tashia Brown nailed two free throws to give the Lady Tops the spark they needed.

Noble scored 9 of her 28 points in the final quarter as WKU tied the game at 65 late in the game with Tashia Brown at the free throw line.

Tashia Brown nailed two free throws to give WKU the lead. However, Kent State’s Larissa Lurken matched Brown at the free throw line to send the game into overtime.

Noble tallied 6 of her 28 points in the overtime period as the Lady Tops pulled away for a 79-73 victory.

In the final game, the Lady Tops fell behind 12-2 early and never recovered. Despite Tashia Brown’s third straight double double, the Lady Tops struggled to get anything going offensively, scoring just 18 points in the first half.

Midway through the third quarter, the Lady Tops went on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to 45-32. However, that would be as close as WKU would get as George Washington pulled away for a 68-49 victory.

The tournament drops the Lady Tops to 3-3 overall. WKU will next travel to Richmond tomorrow night to take on Eastern Kentucky University (2-3). WKU leads the all-time series against the Lady Colonels 28-7 including a 76-60 victory last year.

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