Lady Toppers reverse recent trends

WKU redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble passes around double coverage from the Jaguar’s guards Breanna Hall (11) and Colby Davis (3) during the second half of WKU’s 81-55 win over South Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 at Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Kyle Williams

The Lady Toppers are 10 days removed from their third straight loss. Since then, WKU (16-8, 8-5 Sun Belt Conference) has notched two consecutive victories over Troy and South Alabama by an average of 26.5 points and owns the best overall record in the Sun Belt.

The remedy for the Lady Toppers’ recent success has been sound, tactical defense on one end and crisp ball movement on the other, which led to strong starts in both victories.

Saturday, the Lady Toppers opened on a 26-9 run and trailed for a total of 50 seconds of their 81-55 trouncing of South Alabama.

WKU assisted on 21 of its 30 made baskets and held the Jaguars to a 37-percent shooting clip. It was the first time WKU had beaten South Alabama in the last five attempts.

“It’s kind of like that saying ‘get the monkey off of your back,’” Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “To be able to finally to beat them; they’ve been a thorn in our side since I came here.”

Three days before, WKU trailed Troy 13-11 six minutes into their matchup on Wednesday before using a 17-0 run to build a comfortable lead.

The Lady Toppers won 93-66 and held the Trojans to just 38 percent shooting while forcing 24 turnovers.

With just five games remaining on the Lady Toppers’ regular-season schedule, senior guard Bianca McGee knew the team had to reverse its losing spell with wins against Troy and South Alabama.

“No one wants to lose,” McGee said. “…Coming off a three-game losing streak, we just got in the gym, practiced hard, listened to what the coaches said, executed defensively first and had fun on offense. It worked out well for us.”

McGee tallied an effective 17 points on five-of-10 shooting from behind the three-point line and four rebounds in the Lady Toppers’ rout of South Alabama, which is music to Coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s ears.

“I’m super happy for her,” Heard said. “Because she’s been really working…this was a huge game for her to step up for us and be able to make those threes. She just continued to keep having confidence. She knew eventually they were going to fall.”

Another Lady Topper factoring into the team’s play is redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble, according to Heard.

Noble has averaged 19 points, 6.5 rebounds, five assists and seven steals in the last two games.

“She’s really a unique player because she’s very deceiving,” Heard said. “She has great hands…I think she kind of lulls you to sleep and then she goes to get it. She’s been huge for us.”

Noble may have said it best — when the Lady Toppers are active on defense and share the ball on offense, the game becomes easier and thus, more fun.

“It’s always fun when everyone is getting involved,” Noble said. “It’s always fun when you’re knocking down threes, too.”

WKU will look to extend its current win streak against Louisiana-Monroe in Diddle Arena on Saturday.

Junior forward Chastity Gooch scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Lady Toppers to a 77-73 victory at ULM on Jan. 22.