Poor shooting, defense plagues Lady Toppers in loss to Texas State

WKU junior forward Chastity Gooch (30) attempts to get the ball past Texas State center Ashley Ezeh (45) during the game at Diddle Arena on Saturday. WKU lost 63-72.

Kyle Williams

The Lady Toppers couldn’t find their offensive flow early and dropped a 63-72 decision to Texas State in Diddle Arena Saturday evening.  

WKU (14-6, 6-3 Sun Belt Conference), was without junior guard Alexis Govan for the ninth straight contest, sported pink jerseys in support of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund through the Play4Kay initiative.

Junior forward Chastity Gooch led the way for WKU with 15 points and seven rebounds in all 40 minutes of play. Redshirt freshman Kendall Noble and sophomore Micah Jones chipped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said that Gooch has been playing heavy minutes and performing well for the Lady Toppers, but WKU lacked the timely defensive stops it needed in order to secure a victory.

“I talk to her and I tell her I take my hat off to her,” Heard said. “Because I know she’s playing a ton of minutes and she’s doing a great job for us. We came up short tonight because we didn’t get stops when we needed to. We’re still growing…we’re going to get better.”

WKU hit just three of its first 11 shot attempts and were outscored by eight points in the paint with just over 11 minutes left in the first half before a Gooch three-point play brought the Lady Toppers within one, 12-13.

Despite shooting a woeful 27 percent from the field, WKU trailed Texas State by just six points with 8:49 remaining in the half before a 10-3 run gave the Lady Toppers their first lead of the evening, 24-23.

WKU held its advantage for the remainder of the half and headed into the locker room with a 31-26 lead. The Lady Toppers were led by Gooch, Noble and Jones, who each played the entire first half and combined for 21 points. 

Texas State had the hot hand early in the second half, using a 23-7 run to open up a 38-49 lead over the Lady Toppers with 10 minutes remaining. In the same span, WKU was one for 13 from the field.

Heard was assessed a technical foul, the first of her coaching career, with 10:52 remaining in the second half, which seemingly ignited the Lady Toppers as they cut the Texas State lead to six, 49-43, on a Jones three-pointer with 9:09 remaining.

A three-pointer by senior guard Bianca McGee cut the Texas State lead to 56-51 with six minutes left, but the Bobcats continued their hot shooting and escaped Diddle Arena with a 63-72 victory.

The Lady Toppers will continue Sun Belt Conference play on Wednesday when they travel to Jonesboro, Ark. for a battle with Arkansas State.