Lady Toppers dish Marshall first home loss of season, 67-53

Freshman forward Jaiveonna Norris (34) drives the ball past senior guard Alexis Govan (21) in the women’s team scrimmage during Hilltopper Hysteria on Oct. 18 at Diddle Arena. The Red Team defeated the Black Team 44-29 in the scrimmage. Brandon Carter/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Toppers started their inaugural Conference USA slate off with a 67-53 road win over Marshall in Huntington, W. Virginia.  Senior Alexis Govan scored a team high 22 points to lead WKU past The Thundering Heard in a game that was full of lengthy defensive stalemates.  

“Anytime you start conference (play) and you go on the road, it is going to be a battle,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “Today was—everytime we tried to stretch the lead they would come back and make big shots.”

Govan reached the 20 point mark for the fourth time in six games and continued her impressive shooting percentage streak that saw her average 69 percent from the field in the month of December. She was 10-16 on the night.

Senior All-American candidate Chastity Gooch had 10 points and 13 rebounds in posting her first double-double since taking on No. 7 Louisville on Nov. 25. 

Junior guard Micah Jones added 10 points, four rebounds and four assists for WKU while freshman Tashia Brown had 10 points.

With the win, the Lady Toppers move to 12-2 overall and start off undefeated in their inaugural C-USA slate.  WKU joined the conference on July 1, 2014 after a its time in the Sun Belt Conference saw the Lady Toppers claim 10 regular season and 10 postseason tournament championships.

The women’s program also made three Final Four appearances during its time in the league.

WKU has won nine straight games, 11 straight conference games and its last four games on the road.

The Lady Toppers built a 15-point first half lead over Marshall thanks to an 11-0 run. The lead ballooned out to 27-12 thanks to a 3:38 scoring drought by Marshall.  Though, WKU would experience a drought of their own and hold just a 34-23 advantage at the break.

The Thundering Herd cut WKU’s halftime lead to five early in the second half at 37-32.  The Lady Toppers fired back with a 7-0 run. The Herd didn’t go away, cutting the lead to seven at 51-44 with 7:43 left but never got closer than 10 down the stretch after WKU scored five straight out of a timeout. 

Marshall (8-4, 0-1) was held to just 1-of-16 from behind the three-point line after entering the game averaging 7.5 made three-pointers per game. Marshall’s Chukwuka Ezeigbo had a game high 23 points and 15 rebounds, hitting 11-of-12 shots in the game.

“She absolutely crushed us,” Clark-Heard said. “She had 15 rebounds, nine offensively, and 23 points. We held them from the three-point line- they shot one 1-16 and thats what they had really been doing. To their credit they adjusted and got the ball to the inside and we were really struggling with it.”

WKU handed the Herd their first loss at home this season.

WKU is halfway through a four-game road trip that ends with two more conference games next week. WKU plays at Charlotte on Jan. 8 and Old Dominion on Jan. 10 before returning home on Jan. 15 against Florida Atlantic.