Lady Toppers set to defend Diddle this weekend

Senior guard Alexis Govan jumps for a rebound against two Ole Miss defenders during the second half of WKU’s game against Ole Miss on Dec. 4. Govan led all scorers with 22 points as the Lady Toppers defeated the Rebels 98-69. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

Coming off its 20th win of the season, the WKU women’s basketball team looks to establish themselves as the top team in the Conference USA— currently sitting tied for first with Middle Tennessee. 

WKU’s 20th win of the season was reached in the second fastest amount time in program history per calendar date on Feb. 7.  The only team to do it faster was the 1985-86 team that reached 20 wins by Feb. 4, and would go on to reach the final four of the NCAA tournament. 

The Lady Toppers, unlike their male counterparts, will play five of their last seven games in Diddle Arena, where the team has gone nearly unblemished this season at 9-1.  

They will welcome Marshall University into Diddle Arena on Saturday—a team they defeated 67-53 on Jan. 4. 

“What we are really trying to do is focus on the areas that we struggled on last time we played (Marshall),” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “We have to go back and address those issues.  Another thing is they didn’t shoot the ball as well as they normally do. They have two girls that can really shoot the three—and from deep.” 

Against Rice, the Lady Toppers found a balance in their offensive attack, registering five players with double-digit points. Seniors Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan led the pack with 19 points each.  Govan was on the verge of a triple-double performance—adding eight rebounds and seven steal. 

The Lady Toppers will look to maintain the momentum that brought them back from 13-down against Rice, and carry it through to their Valentine’s Day clash with Marshall. 

“The biggest thing we have been emphasizing as a staff is that we went to Rice—the best offensive rebounding team in the conference—and outrebounded them,” Clark-Heard said. “If we can do that, we have to make sure we can do things on a consistent basis.  In order to be great, you have to be able to perform every time you’re on the floor.”

The Thundering Herd enters Saturday’s contest having won just one of their last three games, losing by one point against Louisiana Tech and three points to North Texas. They defeated Rice by three points on Feb. 5. 

“We are just really excited to see the fans,” Gooch said. “(Rebounding) has been really big.  I know some games we have gone out and been outrebounded, but like Coach said—we outrebounded Rice and they were one of the best in the conference…  We found ourselves down in a hole and we were able to dig ourselves out.”

The Marshall game is set for tip off at 1 p.m. CT on Saturday.  The Lady Toppers will stay home the following week with contests against UAB on Feb. 19 and MTSU on Feb. 21.