Gooch the difference late for Lady Toppers

WKU’s junior forward Chastity Gooch (30) drives around ULL’s guard Kia Wilridge (10) making a basket and drawing a foul giving the Lady Toppers a 3-point lead with less than two minutes to play during WKU’s 67-61 victory over the University of Louisiana Lafayette in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, La. Gooch would lead the Lady Toppers with 21 points for the night. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Kyle Williams

The Lady Toppers were able to escape the first round of the Sun Belt tournament over Louisiana-Lafayette 67-61 Wednesday night thanks to a strong second-half performance from junior forward Chastity Gooch.

Gooch tallied 21 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. She totaled 15 points and seven rebounds in the second half alone.

Gooch converted six of her nine field goal attempts in the second half after missing six of her nine attempts in the first 20 minutes.

“My team just kept feeding me the ball,” Gooch said. “Coach told me, in the first half, I was kind of rushing my shot, so she told me to slow down and gather myself. That’s what I did in the second half.”

All nine Lady Toppers scored against ULL, including junior guard Chanell Lockhart, freshman forward Bria Gaines and redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble, who combined for 36 of the 67 Lady Topper points.

Gooch was a vital part of the comeback victory, but coach Heard said the win was a total team effort.

“She’s put this team on her back,” Heard said. “And that’s what she does. She just played so hard and her teammates have a ton of confidence in her. Chastity had 21 and 14, but I’m going to tell you something  — this was a huge team win. We had a lot of people step up.”