No. 25 Lady Toppers set to take on Charlotte

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

After a 17-year hiatus from the Associated Press Poll’s top 25, the Lady Toppers will enter Thursday night’s game against Charlotte ranked the No. 25 team in the nation. WKU travels to Charlotte to take on the 49ers in hopes of building on their unbeaten conference record that begin against Marshall last week.  

“(Charlotte) is similar to Marshall,” Michelle Clark-Heard said.  “They can shoot the three, they can get up and down the court, and they have individual players who really know how to score.”

The Lady Toppers are looking for their 10th straight win to improve on their current record of 12-2, 1-0.

“We need to make sure we get our scouting report right and make sure we are doing the things we need to do– we need to make sure we can rebound because that was something that really hurt us at Marshall.  We also need to push the ball in transition, and just put some heat on them on the other end.” 

Despite a lengthy absence from the polls, WKU has finished the season ranked in the AP Top 25 nine times—with two of those being top 10 finishes.  The Lady Toppers best finish came in the ’85-’86 season which saw WKU finish with a trip to the final four and a No. 5 overall ranking.  This marks the 177th time in program history the team has been ranked within the top 25 of the weekly AP poll.

With only one Conference-USA match under their belt, the Lady Toppers are on an 11-game conference winning streak including last season’s final Sun Belt Conference slate.

Seniors All-American candidate Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan shined in WKU’s inaugural C-USA match against the Marshall Thundering Herd, leading the Lady Toppers to a 67-53 win against a team that was undefeated at home this season.

Gooch entered conference play the only player in C-USA history to win three C-USA Player of the Week honors before January.  She is averaging 17.9 points per game, shooting 53.6 percent from the field, and shooting 40.0 percent from behind the three-point arc. Gooch is one of only two players in WKU history to rank in top 10 in career points, rebounds, steals and blocks.

“We know (Charlotte) are a really good team,” Gooch said.  “So we are just going to have to keep practicing hard and just sticking to our game plan.”

Govan is quickly re-establishing the form she had during the 2012-2013 season.  Despite missing a majority of the 2013-2014 season due to injury, Govan ranks among the top 50 in the nation among active players in career scoring in the NCAA.

She has scored at least 20 points in four of WKU’s last six games, 17+ points in seven straight and 15+ in 11 straight games while averaging 19.2 points per game during the month of December, shooting 69.1 percent from the field.

Charlotte (4-9, 0-1) is led by Lefty Webster’s 13.2 points per game. The 49ers have won three straight at home.

Tipoff is set for 6 PM CT at Halton Arena.