Triple Noble: Kendall Noble continues stellar junior season in WNIT

WKU’s guard Kendall Noble (12) is closely guarded by Marshall’s guard Norrisha Victim (20) during the final seconds of the Lady Topper’s 63-66 loss in the quarterfinals of the C-USA tournament Thursday at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Ala. Mike Clark/HERALD

Evan Heichelbech

When Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard reflected on the Lady Toppers’ victory over Middle Tennessee on Feb. 25, she focused on the stellar game of one key player.

“Kendall was Kendall from the moment the ball tipped up.”

That’s what Clark-Heard said after junior point guard Kendall Noble went for a game-high 23 points and six assists in the win over WKU’s biggest rival.

For Clark-Heard, it was difficult enough to follow up a 30-win season, a C-USA Championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. 

It was arguably even more difficult for Noble to replicate the kind of careers that two of the all-time great players in WKU women’s history had with Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan.

Noble has rightfully put herself in the same category as Gooch and Govan by accomplishing something neither of them ever did during their time in Bowling Green: registering a triple-double.

“I kept telling her that one day it was going to happen,” Clark-Heard said after Noble’s milestone against Charlotte on Jan. 23. “I’m just really proud of her and the player that she is for this team.”

Noble’s 17-point, 11-rebound and 11-assist effort against Charlotte was the first of two triple-doubles in WKU women’s history.

The only other triple-double in program history came when Noble did it again in a loss to Marshall in the C-USA Tournament on March 10.

Only once has Noble failed to reach double digits in scoring on the season; it was a 52-49 win over Rice in which Noble scored eight points and WKU shot 29.6 percent from the field. She has one more year to come back and add to her legacy next season.

“Kendall is Kendall. She always seems to find a way to put us in a position to win,” Clark-Heard said after the Marshall game in Birmingham.

The praise has been there all season long, and even though the loss to Marshall wasn’t an ideal outcome, it would be difficult to imagine that the Lady Toppers would even be in that position without Noble.

Clark-Heard characterized the nature of Noble’s season in a postgame interview after a 69-58 win over Louisiana Tech to close out the regular season. In the victory again LA Tech, Noble led all scorers with 29 points.

“I’m proud of our bench,” Clark-Heard said. “Taylor Brown had nine rebounds …and then what can I say about Kendall Noble? Just another Kendall Noble day.”

One reason for Noble’s success is her character on and off the court. She is a selfless player who deflects compliments and self-praise to her teammates even while breaking program records and proving she is the highest-impact player on the court.

“I think I just played like I usually do, but my teammates were making shots, and if they aren’t making shots, then I don’t get [the triple-double], so thanks to them,” Noble said after notching her first triple-double.

In the first round of the WNIT against Dayton on Thursday, Noble went 17-18 from the free-throw line and wasn’t fully satisfied.

“She said to me, ‘I was really mad when I missed the one [free throw] that I did,’ and that’s just the type of player she is,” Clark-Heard said. “I’m just so honored to have the opportunity to watch her every day and help and coach her.”

Noble’s selfless attitude translates to playing style on the court as well. She averages 5.4 assists per game and rarely has two consecutive off games on the court.

“She’s very special, and you’re right, she doesn’t like to talk about herself at all,” Clark-Heard said after the Charlotte game. “I’m very fortunate as a coach, and I think her teammates are the same way, to get to play with someone like her who just loves the game and just wants to win.”

There is no doubt that Noble has accomplished special feats at WKU. Whether it’s hitting the 1,000-point mark earlier this season, winning C-USA Player of the Year and C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, or guiding her team to 24 wins in what was considered to be a rebuilding year for the Lady Toppers, Kendall has been Kendall.

Noble and the Lady Toppers were back in action on Monday against the University of Tennessee, Martin in the WNIT. At press time, the game had not concluded.