Lady Toppers win streak snapped by UTSA

Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard converses with Tashia Brown during a timeout in the Lady Topper’s game against the University of Louisville at the Yum! Center, November 25, 2014. Justin Gilliland/HERALD

Jonah Phillips

The WKU women’s basketball team went on a two-game Texas road swing last week, winning its 14th straight game against UTEP 80-74, before having their impressive streak snapped with a 64-63 loss against UTSA on Saturday.

The team’s first loss since Nov. 25 came at the hands of a free throw in the final three seconds of the game. 

The Lady Topper’s (17-3, 6-1) Thursday contest against UTEP saw the team convert on 30-of-36 attempts from the free-throw line and force the Miners to turn the ball over 24 times. 

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said of her team against UTEP. “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.”

WKU shot just 38.3 percent from the field for the game, converting on 23-of-60 shots, but made all 10 of its free throw attempts in the final minute to secure the win and remain (temporarily) unbeaten in conference play.

“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 could not carry the momentum of 14 straight wins into Saturday’s contest against UTSA, which was a homecoming game for senior All-American candidate Alexis Govan. 

Despite the loss, Govan still performed well in her hometown.  She led the Lady Toppers with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting in her hometown. 

WKU shot 3-of-14 from the field to open the game but slowly found composure, turning that starting figure from 21.4 percent into 40.7 percent at halftime. 

WKU expanded its lead to 16 points at 45-29 with just less than 13 minutes left in the game.  Though this cushion yielded no closure to the contest, and UTSA eventually tied the game at 60 with a pair of free throws.

With the score at 62-60 in UTSA’s favor, freshman Tashia Brown hit a free throw with 51.8 seconds left to come within one, before Govan aced a pair of free throws with 7.8 remaining to go, up 63-62.

UTSA drove the baseline and was fouled before getting to the basket with 3.0 left.

Elonu hit two free throws after replacing Mananasha Bell, a 52 percent free throw shooter on the season, who was fouled with 3.0 seconds, due to injury.

WKU shot 45.7 percent on the contest, but made just 1-of-7 field goals to end the game.

“Every road game you’re going to have to come and fight and be ready to play,” junior Micah Jones said. “You don’t get every call, and I think it went both ways. It was a rough game.”

WKU returns home next week for a pair of games with Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss, starting with L.A. Tech on Thursday, January 29 at 7 CT.