Lady Toppers drop non-conference game

Elliott Pratt

The Lady Toppers dropped their first loss of the year to Illinois State 83-68 in Diddle Arena Saturday night.

Illinois State (3-2) was the first opponent in the last 24 games to score more than 80 points against WKU (3-1).

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said poor defense was clearly to blame for the home loss.

“As much as we’ve harped on defense, I’m very disappointed,” Heard said. “We’re not going to win ball games if we’re letting people score 80 points.”

WKU’s only lead came from a  free throw from sophomore guard Illeana Johnson to cap off a 7-0 run early in the first half — that would be the last time the Lady Toppers were ahead.

After trailing at the half 36-28, sophomore guard Danay Fothergill led the charge out of the locker room with three straight three-pointers as the second half wound down to pull the Lady Toppers within eight.

ISU responded to every Lady Topper basket with a score of its own, with the Redbirds pulling away with a 15-point win in Diddle.

Sophomore forward Chastity Gooch recorded her fourth consecutive double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Fothergill, who led with 15 points, said it was frustrating for the defense to give up points answered off of Lady Topper scores.

“Coach told us the important part of the second half was our defense,” Fothergill said. “Our offense will come — it’s just that defense is what we had to do, and we didn’t get it done.”

WKU will now hit the road for two straight conference games, starting with Louisiana-Monroe and Troy.

WKU split with ULM last year, losing 53-49 in Monroe and winning 66-50 over the Warhawks in the first round of the Sun Belt Tournament.

It will be the first game of the year broadcast live on HSSN (Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network), locally on WKYU-PBS and will be available nationally on ESPN3.

The Lady Toppers will tip off against ULM at 5:15 p.m. Thursday.