Gooch and Govan not enough to beat MTSU

Tyler Lashbrook

The Lady Toppers suffered their third loss in Sun Belt Conference play to Middle Tennessee State Sunday, despite getting 46 points from sophomore guard Alexis Govan and sophomore forward Chastity Gooch.

It’s no secret that Govan and Gooch are the two scoring leaders for WKU (15-5, 8-3 SBC).

Govan averages 19.5 points per game, which is third best in the Sun Belt.

Gooch, meanwhile, averages 16.6 points per game, good for fourth best in the Sun Belt.

On Sunday Govan scored 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and knocked down 7-of-8 free throws.

Gooch scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds despite having a size disadvantage against the post players from MTSU (15-5, 10-1 SBC).

It was her 17th double-double on the season, a number which still leads the nation.

The rest of the team shot just 4-of-28 from the field, amounting to a miserable 14.3 percent.

Govan said she and Gooch are confident the Lady Toppers will recover, despite Sunday’s struggles.

“It just so happened that tonight it wasn’t really anybody’s night,” Govan said. “Chastity and I just got the ball to fall in a few times.”

Five players for WKU scored below their season average and in order to beat a team like Middle Tennessee, which sits alone atop the Sun Belt, that can’t happen.

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard says that she was proud of how the Lady Toppers fought but Govan and Gooch aren’t enough to win a game alone.

“Two people in any basketball game are not going to be able to carry you.” Heard said.

For the Lady Toppers, the Lady Raiders have proven to be consistently one of their toughest opponents.

Sunday’s loss was the 11th straight against MTSU – WKU hasn’t beaten Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro since 2004.

MTSU’s star player, freshman forward Ebony Rowe, who averaged over 21 points coming into Sunday’s matchup, was held to just 13 points on 6-of-18 shooting but the Lady Raiders were able to overcome with a huge game from senior guard Kortni Jones.

Jones scored a career-high 28 points on eight-of-13 from the field and nine-of-12 from the free throw line.

“I’ve known Kortni for years and she’s a big-time player,” Heard said. “Big time players step up and hit big shots.”

MTSU head coach Rick Insell hasn’t lost to the Lady Toppers at home in his seven years at the helm of the Lady Raiders.

Insell said he’s impressed with how coach Heard has found success in such a short time at WKU.

“They’re going to be a team you’re going to have to contend with,” Insell said. “Because they’ve got two good scorers in Gooch and Govan.”

The Lady Topper’s loss Sunday was the first time that they’ve lost two games in a row this season and the first time since February of last season – WKU other Sun Belt loss this season was to South Alabama on Jan. 23.

In that game (against USA) the Lady Toppers shot just 38 percent from the field – on Sunday they dipped to a 33.3 percent clip on 22-of-66 total.

The Lady Toppers will get a chance to end this losing streak in the comfort of their own home on Wednesday when Troy (3-16, 0-10 SBC) comes to town.

WKU won its first meeting on the road against Troy, 84-81 on Dec. 1.