Conference road tests next for Lady Toppers

WKU’s guard Kendall Noble (12) drives to the basket past Louisville forward Cortnee Walton (13) during the Lady Hilltopper’s 71-69 win on November 21, 2015 at Diddle Arena. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Evan Heichelbech

Coming off an 80-76 victory at Marshall, WKU will look to keep the momentum rolling this week as it completes a three-game road swing at Old Dominion and Charlotte.

“We just got to keep rolling, and this [win over Marshall] was just one of those steps,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said in a post-game radio interview.

The Lady Toppers will not overlook their next conference opponents as both teams currently field 7-5 conference records.

WKU will also look to gain any lost traction in the C-USA standings after a recent fall in rank.

The Lady Toppers currently sit in third place in the conference standings with a 10-2 record behind UTEP (12-1) and Middle Tennessee (11-2). WKU lost to both teams.

The first time WKU and Old Dominion played each other on Jan. 21, the Lady Toppers came away with a definitive 68-51 victory over the Monarchs.

Sophomore forward Ivy Brown, sophomore forward Tashia Brown and freshman forward Dee Givens led WKU with 14 points each, and the WKU defense held Old Dominion to 38.8 percent shooting for the game.

However, Old Dominion has been a different team at home, especially in conference play. The Monarchs are 6-3 overall and a perfect 5-0 in C-USA games inside the Ted Constance Center.

Those three Old Dominion losses came from Richmond, East Tennessee State and now nationally-ranked Miami (Ohio). The most recent home victory for the Monarchs was a 94-85 triumph over Charlotte on Feb. 6.

“We just go game by game, day by day,” Clark-Heard said. “It’s always hard to go on the road and win in someone’s gym, so we’re going to continue to keep working to be prepared for Thursday.”

Besides having a home-court advantage, the Monarchs feature a dangerous offensive tandem in guard Jennie Simms and forward Destinee Young.

Simms is leading the conference in scoring average with 19 points per game, and Young averages a solid 11 points and eight rebounds per game. In the last matchup, Simms led all scorers with 18 points, and Young turned in a 12-point, seven-rebound effort.

As for Saturday’s contest in Charlotte, the Lady Toppers will be tasked with stopping forward Alexis Alexander, who is ninth in the conference in both points and rebounds with 15 and eight, respectively, per game.

While redshirt junior guard Kendall Noble was the star of the last meeting between these two teams with her record-breaking triple-double, Alexander quietly kept the 49ers in the game tallying 10 points and 11 rebounds.

WKU won the game 77-66, but Alexander was the only player from Charlotte to live up to her season average.

The 49ers have four starters averaging double figures, and only guard Lefty Webster cracked double digits with 10 points in the last meeting.

Webster, Kira Gordon and Ciara Gregory all average at least 11 points and are all capable of having productive offensive outings.

Charlotte is also tough to beat in its own building with an 8-2 overall home record, including a 4-1 mark in the conference.

Even though these teams are better at home than on the road, WKU is not a bad road team by any means.

Two of the Lady Toppers’ three road losses came early in the season and out of conference play to Ball State and Ole Miss. And the 83-75 road loss to talented C-USA foe Middle Tennessee is not a resume killer.

Two road wins this week would be instrumental for WKU and would keep the Lady Toppers in strong position in the race for both the C-USA regular season championship and the conference tournament championship.