WKU scores double-digit win in opener

Elliott Pratt

WKU started its season on the right foot Friday with a 80-69 win at Murray State.

It was the first time since 2009 that the Lady Toppers have opened the regular season with a win.

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said a road win to open the season was exactly what this team needed.

“I am super proud of this group,” Heard told WKU radio after the game. “This is an unbelievable start for us and it’s a great road victory.”

Trailing 10-9 seven minutes into the game, WKU sparked a 16-0 run with a Chastity Gooch basket.

Gooch posted her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, but fouled out of the game midway through the second half.

Defense was the main focus for the Lady Toppers heading into Friday night’s contest, and they definitely showed improvement. WKU forced 13 Murray State turnovers in the first half alone, leading to a double digit lead at intermission.

Junior Chaney Means, who finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, joined Gooch on the bench in the second half after fouling out of the game, leaving seven Lady Toppers to play the remainder of the game.

WKU had built a comfortable 23-point lead before the Racers put together a 18-4 scoring run to cut the lead to single digits at 57-48 with just under five minutes to play.

The Lady Toppers held Murray State to just 33 percent from the field and one three-pointer en route to the first regular season win in the Heard era.

“I told our kids that when we are on a roll, we have to jump on them,” Heard said. “Our kids really bought into that. I am really happy for them. I hope they enjoy this win because it is really important for them.”

Sophomore Alexis Govan led the Lady Toppers with a career-high 26 points.

WKU will return to Diddle Arena for its home opener in the 30th annual BB&T Classic against Northern Kentucky next Saturday night at 5:30.