Lady Tops push past UTEP 80-74, remain unbeaten in C-USA

Senior guard Alexis Govan (21) and junior guard Micah Jones (5) celebrate after forcing a turnover during the first half of WKU’s Nov. 14 game against Central Arkansas. The Lady Toppers forced 22 turnovers in their 93-57 victory over the Sugar Bears. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Toppers notched their 14th consecutive win Thursday night in El Paso, dishing out an 80-74 win over UTEP. No. 24 WKU (17-2, 6-0) forced UTEP to turn the ball over 24 times and converted on 30-of-36 attempts at the free throw line to secure the win.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well today,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “But we found different ways and different people stepped up. Again, I go back to how selfless this team is and how determined they are to win.”

Junior Micah Jones had a career high 22 points, converting on 10-of-12 free throws. She was one of four Lady Toppers to finish with double figures.

“Every road game you’re going to have to come and fight and be ready to play,” Jones said. “You don’t get every call, and I think it went both ways. It was a rough game, we just toughed it out at the end and got some stops.  It was huge.”

Freshman Tashia Brown had 17 points, while senior Chastity Gooch had 19 points and eight steals and senior Alexis Govan finished with 10 points.

The teams played a tight first half with five ties and eight lead changes as neither team found consistent success on the offensive end. The Lady Toppers shot just 30.6 percent for the half, including missing seven straight near the end of the first half before Kendall Noble’s putback at the buzzer gave WKU a 32-30 lead at the break.

The Lady Toppers forced the Miners into 17 first half turnovers, but were able to convert that into just eight points. The Miners hit 6-of-15 from behind the three-point arc in the opening half.

WKU went on a 5-0 run to start the second half, giving them a 37-30 edge. The teams would continue to trade blows until the Lady Topper lead was cut to one at 48-47 before scoring five straight. This 5-0 run ignited WKU, eventually establishing a nine-point lead.

“We came out of the locker room in the second half and we were really ready to play,” Clark-Heard said. “Defensively it started for us—we were able to get a couple steals and a couple baskets.  I think we sat back and guarded better the second half.”

The Lady Toppers converted on all 10 of their free throw attempts in the final minute to secure the win to remain unbeaten in conference play.

WKU shot just 38.3 percent from the field for the game, converting on 23-of-60 shots.

UTEP (8-7, 3-3) converted 11-of-24 three-point shots in the game, making just one more field goal from outside the three-point arc than inside it.

Following this week’s two-game road swing in Texas, the Lady Toppers return home for a pair of games with Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss, starting with L.A. Tech on Thursday, January 29th at 7 CT.