Lady Tops look to regroup after setback at MTSU

Red shirt junior guard Kendall Noble (12) squares up and takes a shot against University of Louisville junior Cortnee Walton (13) on Nov. 21, 2015 at Diddle Arena. The tops won 71-69. Nick Wagner/HERALD

Evan Heichelbech

The nation’s longest winning streak in women’s college basketball came to an end Saturday evening when the WKU Lady Toppers fell 83-75 on the road at Middle Tennessee.

The loss marked the first defeat for the Lady Tops since they suffered a 59-53 setback at Ole Miss on Dec. 2, 2015.

“It’s a tough one to lose,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said in a postgame radio interview. “We can’t give up 83 points on the road to anyone and expect to win.”

The game on Saturday was the first time WKU has allowed more than 69 points in 14 games, all of which the Lady Tops had won. 

Sophomore guard Tashia Brown led the Lady Tops with 19 points and was joined in double digits by Kendall Noble with 14 points and the trio of Simone Goods, Ivy Brown and Kayla Smith, all of whom scored 10 points. 

However, Blue Raiders guard Brea Jackson was too much for WKU to handle as she poured in 29 points and 12 rebounds. 

In a game with seven lead changes and nine ties, it’s hard to pinpoint one statistic, but the disparity of the two defenses during the fourth quarter could have been the deciding factor 

WKU was held to just 29 percent shooting while MTSU cashed in on half of their opportunities, shooting 50 percent for the quarter.  

“When you score 75 points, you score enough to win, but we didn’t guard and credit to them,” Clark-Heard said. “Brea Edwards controlled us in the first half, and then we came out and I thought we did a great job in the third quarter, and then we started fouling and doing some other things.”

The loss drops WKU to second place in the Conference USA standings behind the University of Texas at El Paso, who currently owns a perfect 9-0 conference record. 

The next opponent for the Lady Tops will be the University of Texas at San Antonio at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Diddle Arena.  

“We’ll go back and adjust and work on the things we need to because we got to get better in our rotations on defense,” Clark-Heard said. “At the end of the day, we have to continue to keep working to get better.”

The narrative heading into last year’s matchup with the Roadrunners of UTSA was very similar to this season’s. 

The Lady Tops had a 14-game win streak while also boasting a 17-2 record going into the game in San Antonio. With three seconds left, UTSA’s Akunna Elonu nailed two free throws to lift the Roadrunners to a 64-63 victory. Noble and Tashia Brown had 16 and 12 points respectively. 

This time around, the Lady Tops are hoping for a different outcome as their head coach is stressing the importance of every single game. 

“You have to take care of things, and you have to win. We are just focusing on getting better each and every game,” Clark-Heard said. “Our conference wants to have an opportunity where we can get an at-large bid to the tournament, and with where we are at right now, we want to keep working so we can possibly have that chance.”

The Lady Toppers’ matchup with UTSA will tip off at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Diddle Arena.