Lady Toppers look forward to rematch with MTSU

Tyler Lashbrook

The Lady Toppers lost at home Wednesday to South Alabama but they don’t have time to dwell on the loss.

The Sun Belt’s No. 1 team, Middle Tennessee State, will come into Diddle with the same intentions as WKU (20-8, 13-6 Sun Belt Conference) – to win its last regular season game before tournament time begins. The Lady Toppers will have to be mentally and physically prepared if they want to pull off the upset on the last game on their home floor.

On Jan. 27, WKU travelled to Murfreesboro, Tenn., and took a 22-point loss to the Sun Belt’s best team.

In that game, the Lady Toppers’ two main scorers – sophomore guard Alexis Govan and sophomore forward Chastity Gooch – combined to score 46 of the team’s 57 points. The rest of the team shot 4-of-28 from the field.

One thing become apparent that day – WKU couldn’t rely on two players to carry the team against a formidable opponent like MTSU.

If there’s one good thing to take out of Wednesday’s loss against USA it’s that it provided a chance to showcase the development of WKU’s role players.

Those role players will have to play a bigger part in the game this time if the Lady Toppers hope to upset Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, Heard said.

Wednesday, everyone not named Govan or Gooch combined to shoot 13-of-26 from the field for 26 points.

Despite that production, the Lady Toppers fell 59-65 to South Alabama.

Heard said rough play down the stretch is what doomed WKU Wednesday.

“We shouldn’t have been in that situation but when we are, the kids have got to feel confident in what we’re going to do,” Heard said. “I think we got a little rattled in the end.”

Freshman forward Jalynn McClain was a rebound shy from a double-double, officially recording 12 points and nine rebounds. According to coach Michelle Clark-Heard, McClain’s performance was a result of hard work she’s put in practice.

“When she shoots the ball you can see that her confidence has really went up,” Heard said. “And that’s really big for us.”

McClain credits Heard for instilling that confidence in her.

“She helps me out a lot,” McClain said. “She believes in me and what we’re trying to do here and it gives me confidence out on the court.”

Performances like McClain’s give Heard hope that she will see more production from her bench Saturday, the coach said.

“Jalynn McClain played well last night, we’ve had other people stepping up, I’m looking forward to other people stepping up and doing those things,” Heard said. “That’s what team basketball is all about, that’s what we’ve always talked about.”