Team effort propels Lady Toppers past Marshall on the road

WKU’s forward Ivy Brown (23) goes up for a shot during a WKU-University of Texas at San Antonio basketball game on Thursday Feb. 4 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. Kathryn Ziesig/HERALD

Evan Heichelbech

Sophomore guard Tashia Brown did not play in the Lady Toppers’ Sunday victory over Marshall due to an injury that kept her in Bowling Green.

However, it didn’t keep her team from picking up an impressive 80-76 victory over the Thundering Herd in a tough road environment.

“I’m just really proud of the team in general and people stepping up,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said in a postgame radio interview. “That’s what we needed. I talked to everybody about making sure that different people were ready to step up.”

Tashia Brown is averaging 18 points per contest and dropped 21 points en route to an 81-52 rout of Marshall earlier in the season. In her last appearance against UTEP on Feb. 6, Brown had 29 points on 11-17 shooting.

“We were missing a player that normally gives us so much,” Clark-Heard said of Tashia Brown. “This was a great team win for us to be able to go on the road here and battle and go back and forth and be able to come up with some big stops and big baskets.”

Other members of the Lady Toppers basketball team were key in pulling the team together for the win. Sophomore forward Ivy Brown had 26 points and 11 rebounds, racking up her eighth double-double of the season.

Ivy Brown went 9-10 from the floor and 5-5 from 3-point range to hold off a hot-shooting Marshall team.

As a team, WKU finished 52 percent from the floor while Marshall shot 51 percent. The Lady Toppers also cashed in on 70 percent of their 3-point opportunities, going 7-10 from beyond the arc.

Freshman forward Taylor Brown had a solid game as well, connecting on 7-13 shots from the floor to put together a 16-point, five-rebound effort.

“Ivy Brown was huge for us tonight,” Clark-Heard said. “Taylor Brown was crucial for us in the first half. [They] just came out and did a lot of great things.”

The 80-76 outcome was only the fourth loss of the season for the Herd inside their own building. A road win in Conference USA league play is usually not an easy task to accomplish.

“It was a great crowd,” Clark-Heard said. “They were into the game. It was a good atmosphere, and I think it was a good situation for our team to be in so we can figure out down the stretch how to get things done.”

Other double-digit scorers for WKU on Sunday included freshman forward Dee Givens with 10 points and junior guard Kendall Noble who had 22 points and seven rebounds.

The Lady Toppers improved to 19-4 overall and 8-3 on the road for the season. Clark-Heard noted that playing through adversity is a vital lesson her team learned on Sunday and that working as a team is a must for moving forward.

“That’s huge for us,” Clark-Heard said. “We just have to keep growing, and this is just one of those steps for us to get better. This was adversity. We just really handled it, and I’m just proud as a coach that different people stepped up. They talked to each other and figured out what we needed to do to get it done.”

Clinging to a 43-38 halftime lead, the Lady Toppers battled back and forth the whole second half but never allowed Marshall to take the lead. Four times the game was tied, but Noble and Ivy Brown scored the final 10 points of the game to close out the victory for the Lady Toppers.

“It’s always a big difference when you’ve played with somebody the whole season and then they’re not out there,” Clark-Heard said. “I’m just proud of our group, and hopefully Tashia’s getting better back at home, and hopefully she’ll be able to return to get some practice and stuff here soon.”

WKU will play the second game of its three-game road trip on Thursday, Feb. 18, when the Lady Toppers go to Norfolk, Virginia, to play Old Dominion at 6 p.m.

In the first meeting of the season between Old Dominion and WKU in Bowling Green, the Lady Toppers handled the Lady Monarchs 68-51.