Lady Toppers shoot to avoid complacency during Sun Belt homestand

WKU freshman guard Kendall Noble (12) prepares to make a shot during the game against UT Arlington in Diddle Arena on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The Tops won 59-46.

Kyle Williams

The Lady Toppers are looking to add momentum to their current win streak as they’re set to play host to Sun Belt Conference newcomer Texas State on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CT in Diddle Arena. The two teams are scheduled to meet for the first time since Dec. 7, 1987.

WKU (14-5, 6-2 Sun Belt Conference) is coming off a road sweep of Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette and are currently in second place in the league standings behind Arkansas State (12-7, 6-1 SBC). Despite their No. 2 status, the Lady Toppers own the best overall record in the league and the best overall scoring margin at +7.6 points per game.

Alexis Govan, who has been sidelined for nearly a month with a stress fracture in her left tibia, is scheduled to return to action at the end of January.

Even if Govan were to return to the improved Lady Topper lineup, coach Michelle Clark-Heard said it’s important that the team never gets too comfortable in conference play.

“We can’t have complacency,” Heard said. “There’s no room for error in this league…You have to be prepared each and every day when you come out and that’s what we’re talking to our team about – making sure every day we’re ready.”

Complacency is what Heard is preaching to her team after their recent success on the road. The Lady Toppers are still working towards putting forth a complete effort and controlling their fate on the court.

“We’re looking forward to continuing to keep getting better,” Heard said. “So we can get to the point where we can do the things that we need to so we can control our own destiny…we just have to continue to keep molding and getting better so we can put 40 minutes together.

Texas State (7-11, 4-3 SBC), which spent just one year in the Western Athletic Conference before joining the Sun Belt, has won five of its last eight games in an attempt to bounce back from a 1-7 start to the season. The Bobcats are led by senior center Ashley Ezeh who averages 14.1 points per game.

Junior forward Chastity Gooch has been a force for WKU of late, averaging 18.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in Sun Belt play, including totals of 26.5 points, nine rebounds and 2.5 blocks during the Lady Toppers’ 2-0 Louisiana road swing, earning her the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week award.

Redshirt freshman guard Kendall Noble and sophomore guard Micah Jones have also impressed for the Lady Toppers in the absence of junior guard Alexis Govan. 

The two have combined for 30 points per game in the past three contests and provide steady hands on the perimeter. Noble, who suffered a series of injuries last season that included a torn ACL, owns a league-best 2.0-assist/turnover ratio.

Heard said that Noble’s versatility has been beneficial to the team and that, because of the series of setbacks she’s had to endure, she’s happy to see her succeed.

“I’m just happy for her,” Heard said. “…The injuries have plagued her. She hasn’t been able to do the different things that she’s been able to show some of the fans. She’s been huge for us on the road. To average 19 points on that swing and do the things assist-wise…she’s just a very talented player.”