Lady Tops face tough environment at Marshall

WKU’s guard Ima Akpan (20) dribbles around University of Texas at San Antonio guard Crystal Chidomere (4) 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

When Conference USA leaders the Miners of the University of Texas, El Paso came to Diddle Arena Saturday afternoon, their conference record was almost perfect. The Miners’ record moved to 10-1 a few hours later after they knocked off WKU at home for the first time all season by a final score of 85-78.

UTEP established itself as the top team in the conference after that victory, passing all eye tests and backing it up on paper.

But one loss remains in the right-hand column of the team’s record: a 79-64 setback to Marshall in Huntington, West Virginia.

Sunday, WKU’s Lady Toppers will travel into the same building to take on that dangerous Thundering Herd team.

“On any given night, you got to go out and make sure you’re ready to play,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said after Saturday’s loss. “We just got to get back and get focused and get them in the gym and correct the things we need to so when we go on the road [Sunday], we’ll be ready.”

The Herd have only lost three times in their building this season: one to a tough West Virginia (18-6) squad and two conference games against North Texas and Charlotte by a combined 11 points.

The Lady Toppers played Marshall earlier in the season on Jan. 2, 2015, in Diddle Arena as they blew out the Herd 81-52. But Clark-Heard knows her team must fine-tune some things to win on the road.

“We got to get better at rebounding. We gave up some crucial weak-side rebounds in certain situations where they led to easy baskets,” Clark-Heard said. “We got to work on some things as far as with our ball handling and things like that.”

In that early January game, WKU had five players in double figures with sophomore guard Tashia Brown leading the way with 21 points.

Freshman guard Dee Givens contributed 18 points off the bench, and sophomore guard Ivy Brown posted a double-double as she scored 16 points and notched 14 rebounds. Redshirt junior guard Kendall Noble and freshman guard Kayla Smith had 11 and 10 points respectively.

The Lady Toppers will look to contain senior forward Leah Scott who is currently averaging a team-high 17 points per game and seven rebounds per game. Scott managed to score only 13 points and add just three rebounds the last time the two teams met.

WKU (18-4, 9-2 in C-USA) will tip off against Marshall (16-6, 6-5 in C-USA) at 12 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.