Lady Toppers face Charlotte in first C-USA post-season clash

WKU’s Chastity Gooch (30) releases a three-point attempt during Saturday’s game against Southern Miss at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. The Hilltoppers ultimately fell to Southern Miss, 63-61. Photo by Nick Wagner/ WKU HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The top seeded WKU women’s basketball team begins post-season action tomorrow in the Conference USA tournament as they clash with eighth-seeded Charlotte.

“They are definitely excited to be here,” Clark-Heard said of the team. “This is our first opportunity to play in a tournament in the Conference USA…  The thing about this conference is that on any given day, anybody has a chance to win.”

The Lady Toppers enter the contest coming off a first-round bye as C-USA regular season champs, touting a 27-4 record with a 16-2 mark in league play.  The last time WKU posted 27 regular season wins was in the 1985-1986 season that saw the Lady Toppers make a run to the NCAA final four.

C-USA Player of the Year Chastity Gooch, C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Kendall Noble, and C-USA Coach of the Year Michelle Clark-Heard will look to add to the team’s current nine-game win streak.

“The energy is pretty high.  The mood is ‘we got three games,’ three games as hard as you can go and handling business,” senior Alexis Govan said. “The mindset is different (than the regular season).”

Holding the No. 1 seed, WKU looks to win back-to-back conference championships for the first time since the early 90’s when the program won three straight between 1991-93.   

Combined with last season, the Lady Toppers hold a 51-13 record, and Clark-Heard holds a

Charlotte enters the game after dishing out a controlling 67-52 win over Marshall.

“We are way more focused on ourselves,” Govan said of the team’s preparations. “On us executing on offense but mainly just playing defense. No matter who way play, we have to play defense.”

The Lady Toppers look to keep Charlotte’s Alexis Alexander quiet as she posted 16 points and 13 rebounds in Charlotte’s win over the Thundering Herd.

“They can shoot the three,” Clark-Heard said. “Charlotte’s thing is that, I think, they have more individual players that can score in spurts.”

Clark-Heard has been emphasizing the importance of handling the ball, and will have their skills in that area put to the test as Charlotte forced 17 Marshall turnovers for 17 points.  

Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. CT in University of Alabama Birmingham’s Bartow Arena.