Lady Toppers end season with 64-66 loss to Texas

Senior Lady Topper basketball players (from left) Chastity Gooch (30), Alexis Govan (21) and Ileana Johnson (24) walk off the court after losing to University of Texas, 64-66, during the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament at Haas Pavilion in Berkley, California, Friday, March 20, 2015. Jeffery Brown/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Toppers put forth a valiant effort, but fell short against the Texas Longhorns in the first round of the NCAA tournament 64-66.

Twelfth seeded WKU ends their inaugural Conference USA season with a 30-5 overall record, a 16-2 mark in league play, both regular and post-season C-USA titles, and their second-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. 

Texas received a five seed. 

Seniors Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan controlled the Lady Topper offense and combined for 45 of WKU’s 64 points off of a combined 14-of-30 from the field.

Gooch notched a game-high 25 points (14 second half) including a 5-for-9 effort from 3-point range. She added six rebounds, two assists and one steal in her final game as a Lady Topper.  Govan went 6-for-16 from the field for 20 points, with a crucial 5-for-9 effort from the free throw line that kept WKU in the game late.

Kendall Noble was the only Lady Topper to pull in double-digit boards—a place where WKU struggled all game. Noble claimed 10 of WKU’s 28 rebounds, which were bested by 49 Texas rebounds.

Where the Lady Toppers did excel was in turnover margin. They forced 19 Longhorn turnovers for 18 points and only gave up nine.

Of WKU’s 21 buckets on the night, 13 of them came assisted, with Micah Jones leading the pack with a game-high six.    

Sloppy and uninspired play from both teams characterized the first half.  Both teams with lengthy (over five minute) scoring droughts and general struggles from the field left the score tied at 25 at halftime. 

Gooch and Govan led the Lady Toppers in the first half after combining for 21 of WKU’s 25 first-half points.  WKU shot just 29 percent in the first half off of 31 attempts.

The Lady Toppers came out of halftime with more energy, and after scoring 25 points in the first 20 minutes of the game, had scored five in under the first minute of the second half. The Lady Tops bubbled out to an eight-point lead at 39-31 after two free throws from Chastity Gooch with 12:20 remaining.

WKU did not trail in the second half until the 4:12 mark, when a Longhorn layup gave Texas a 55-57 advantage.  This was a pivotal point in the game, as the Lady Toppers played a possession behind for the rest of the game. 

Down four at 60-64, freshman and former Kentucky Miss Basketball Ivy Brown knocked down the most important 3-pointer of her freshman campaign, bringing the score to 63-64 with 41 seconds remaining.

Govan would tie the game at 64 after a free throw with 25 seconds remaining, but that would be the last points WKU would muster. Two free throws from Texas’ Brooke McCarty pushed the Longhorns past the Lady Toppers in the dying seconds of the match.