Lady Tops open season against Central Arkansas on Friday

WKU’s sophomore forward Jalynn McClain (33) shoots over ASU’s forward Jane Morrill (11) during the first half of WKU’s 61-60 victory Arkansas State in the championship game of the Sun Belt Tournament Saturday, March 15, 2014, at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La. The Lady Toppers secured a place in the NCAA tournament with their win. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Kyle Williams

WKU women’s basketball will commence its 2014-15 campaign tomorrow in postseason fashion as the Lady Toppers welcome Central Arkansas to Diddle Arena for the first round of the Preseason WNIT.

This marks the fourth time WKU has appeared in the Preseason WNIT. The tournament is formatted to give all teams a three-game guarantee, and nine of the 16 teams competing this year appeared in the postseason in 2013-14.

“It’s great for our team because it puts us in that tournament mindset early, and that’s what it’s about,” Head Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “At the end of the day, to be able to win a tournament or put yourself in a position to win – that’s the way it goes. You play, take care of your business in your game and what you’re supposed to do and you wait to figure out who’s going to be your opponent.”

The Lady Toppers’ first matchup, Central Arkansas, is coming off an 18-12 season that yielded a first-round loss to McNeese State in the Southland Conference Tournament.

The Sugar Bears return their second and third leading scorers from a season ago in sophomore guards Brianna Mullins and Maggie Proffitt, who combined for 19.7 points per game.

“They have a lot of guards that can do a lot of good things,” Heard said. “That’s, again, why we’re really trying to focus on our man-to-man defense and making sure that we’re in help side and boxing out and rebounding.”

ESPN announced Wednesday that WKU ranks second in its preseason mid-major top-10 poll thanks in part to senior forward Chastity Gooch and senior guard/forward Alexis Govan.

According to Gooch, the senior-laden Lady Toppers are prepared for its tournament-style season-opener, and they just have to continue to put in the effort as a unit in order to succeed.

“Just us keep playing as a team,” Gooch said. “Playing together, working hard, practicing, giving it our all each and every day.”