McGee fuels Lady Topper win

Kyle Williams

Despite trailing for a majority of the game, the Lady Toppers used 30 points from the bench to outlast Austin Peay State in the regular season opener in Diddle Arena on Saturday.

Senior guard Bianca McGee led the way for the Lady Toppers (1-0) with 21 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench. Junior forward Chastity Gooch recorded 15 points and 15 rebounds and junior guard Alexis Govan and sophomore guard Micah Jones tallied 13 and 14, respectively.

WKU faced an early 11-0 deficit and made just four of its first 20 shots before McGee and the Lady Topper bench came in to score the 11 of the team’s 17 points in the first 10 minutes. In that same stretch, the WKU starters were just 1-of-11 from the field.

The Lady Toppers finished the first half with 18 bench points, led by McGee with 12 in 14 minutes of play, and trailed APSU by two points. Govan played just four minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said McGee and the Lady Topper bench proved to be vital for WKU.

“Our bench showed up,” Heard said. “Bianca McGee was huge when she came off the bench. Everybody that came in, I believe, gave us some crucial minutes…that’s what a team’s all about.”

A Gooch three-pointer gave the Lady Toppers their first tie of the game before a Govan layup gave them their first lead with 17:30 remaining in the second half. Govan scored all over her 13 points in the second half.

Gooch, who recorded 11 points and eight rebounds in the second half, said she knew she had to elevate her game after a rough first half.

“At halftime coach got in my ear,” Gooch said. “I just knew that I had to step up and luckily our bench came out and did what they had to do to get us back in the game.”

Jones went 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute to seal the victory for WKU, 78-75. Although they allowed APSU to shoot the ball at a 45 percent clip, the Lady Toppers recorded just seven turnovers after allotting 45 in two exhibitions victories.

Govan said the Lady Toppers had to find their focus in order to edge APSU.

“We just had to get our focus back,” Govan said. “We came out not focused and not with the energy that we usually play with and that the fans are used to seeing, so we just had to fight through that and find our focus.”

The Lady Toppers turn around and travel to Nashville on Monday to clash with Vanderbilt before coming back home to face Murray State on Saturday.