Lady Toppers win home opener, get to 2-0

WKU sophomore guard Alexis Govan runs into Northern Kentucky senior forward Tiara Hopper while attempting to score during their game Saturday night at EA Diddle Arena.

Elliott Pratt

WKU came out in its home opener Saturday and took care of business.

The Lady Toppers advanced to 2-0 on the season with a 65-53 win over Northern Kentucky in Diddle Arena.

This is only the second time in seven years that WKU has started the season 2-0.

Coach Michelle Clark-Heard said starting the year out in winning fashion is exactly what the team needed before hosting Sun Belt Conference foe Florida International Monday night.

“It was exciting for the kids to have the opportunity to play at home,” Heard said. “I thought we had a nice crowd and I was glad the kids came out and performed well.”

The Lady Toppers opened with good defense, but couldn’t put the ball in the basket themselves.

Nearly midway through the first half, a pair of Chastity Gooch free throws and one bucket from Alexis Govan was the only thing the Lady Toppers had to show for offensively, shooting 1-14 from the floor.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well in the first ten minutes of the game,” Heard said. “We’ve been fortunate to shoot 50-53 percent in the exhibition and the Murray (State) game, but I told our team that’s not going to happen all the time. We had to sit down and guard and play mad-dog and do some different things.”

The offensive struggles would clean up for the Lady Toppers.

Freshman LeAsia Wright, who saw her first action as a Lady Topper in the game, knocked down a 3-point shot to help shoot WKU ahead 13-11 with seven minutes to play in the first half.

The Lady Toppers closed the first half with a 20-5 run to lead 26-16 at the halftime.

“LeAsia Wright did an unbelievable job for us tonight,” Heard said. “To come in and get on the ball and pick up the pressure was huge for us. For her to have the opportunity to get released and play, she did a really good job for us.”

Five minutes into the second half, forward Chastity Gooch grabbed her career-high 12th rebound and had nine points.

The Lady Toppers went on to cruise to a 65-53 home opening win.

Gooch scored her second consecutive double-double in the contest, putting up 12 points along with her 12 rebounds

Govan scored a team-high 22 points, while Chaney Means finished with eight points, seven rebounds, and four steals in the first half.

Govan said the team doesn’t have long to celebrate the win.

“It feels great, but we can’t celebrate too long,” Govan said. “We have to get back in here tomorrow and get back to work to try and get our third win.”

WKU will welcome the Sun Belt preseason player of the year Jerica Coley and FIU Monday at 7 p.m. in Diddle Arena.