Lady Tops showcase experience at Hysteria

Sam Porter

WKU basketball fans got their first glimpse of both the women’s and men’s basketball teams Friday when WKU hosted its annual Hilltopper Hysteria presented by Hughes Supply.

Although Rick Stansbury’s recruiting success has stolen all the spotlight, it’s no secret that the WKU women’s basketball team has its fair share of high expectations for this coming season.

The Lady Toppers were picked to win Conference USA in the preseason coaches poll after finishing 27-7(15-3 C-USA) in 2015-16 and suffering a heartbreaking 66-63 loss to Marshall University in the C-USA tournament that kept them out of the NCAA tournament.

The Lady Tops return multiple key players such as redshirt senior guards Kendall Noble and Micah Jones and junior forwards Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown.

“We’ve been practicing hard every day, and we’re getting better,” Noble said about the team’s preparation for the 2016-17 season. “We have a lot of pieces, we have a lot of depth, and we have a lot of talent, and we’re just trying to put it all together.”

The event lasted two hours and featured a scrimmage from both the women’s and the men’s team, player and coach introductions, performances by the WKU Cheerleaders and an autograph session after the night.

The event also included the Shooting Stars Challenge where two teams featuring a WKU men’s player, women’s player and two students competed to see who can be the quickest to make a layup, free throw, three-pointer and half-court shot.

The team of Jones, redshirt senior guard Que Johnson and two WKU students defeated Noble, redshirt senior guard ‘Pancake’ Thomas and two other WKU students in the challenge.

In the women’s scrimmage, the team was divided into two teams wearing black and red jerseys.

The Black team edged the Red team after redshirt junior forward Kyvin Goodin-rogers’ shot at the buzzer was waved off.

Sophomore guard Kayla Smith led both teams with 11 points while Ivy Brown added eight points of her own while pulling down four rebounds.

Hysteria was also the first time Jones saw the floor since last year’s season-ending knee injury in the Lady Tops’ upset of No. 16 Louisville.

Jones entered last season thinking it would be her final season in a Lady Tops uniform. However, the Greensburg native received a medical redshirt, allowing her to return for one last season.

“Therapy went well,” Jones said at the event. “I feel like I’m finally getting back to my old ways. It’s exciting to be able to come back for one more season. At first, I was like ‘why did this have to happen?’ But it worked out, and we have a great team and a great group of girls that are fun to play with.”

The Lady Tops begin their season Thursday, Nov. 3 with a scrimmage against Young Harris College.

The regular season officially begins Friday, Nov. 11 when the Lady Tops welcome Alabama A&M, who is coached by former WKU assistant Margaret Richards, to Diddle Arena.

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