South Alabama hands Lady Toppers historic loss

Brad Stephens

You’d have to turn the clock back to 1974 to see a WKU offensive showing as bad as Saturday’s was.

President Richard Nixon resigned amid the Watergate scandal, The Godfather Part II won the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Oakland Athletics won their third straight World Series.

And sometime during that year (WKU’s women’s basketball media guide doesn’t give an exact date), WKU lost 65-32 to Belmont in Diddle Arena.

On Saturday, nearly 38 years later, the Lady Topper offense nearly plunged to those depths.

WKU was routed by South Alabama 70-33 at the Mitchell Center in Mobile, Ala.

It was the Lady Toppers’ lowest scoring game since that 1974 loss to Belmont, and it came on the heels of what had been improved play from WKU (8-18, 5-9 Sun Belt Conference).

The Lady Toppers had scored at least 59 points in three straight games, winning their last two.

But on Saturday, WKU finished the game 13-of-49 from the field and 2-of-14 from the perimeter with 28 turnovers and just 11 second half points.

All 12 Lady Toppers that entered the game had at least one turnover.

The highest total came from sophomore guard Ellen Sholtes, with four.

Meanwhile freshman forward Chastity Gooch led the poor shooting efforts, going 1-of-11 from the floor.

Sholtes (seven points) and senior guard Vanessa Obafemi (six) were the only WKU players to score more than four points.

The Lady Jaguars (16-10, 9-5) had no such offensive struggles.

Five South Alabama players scored in double-figures, led by forward Taylor Ammons with 14 points.

Guards Sarda Peterson, Lauren Walker, Camille Reynolds and Mansa El added 12, 11, 11 and 10 points, respectively.

South Alabama used a 16-2 first half run between the 12:42 and 5:00 marks of the first half to take control of the game.

Walker started the run with a 3-pointer to put the Lady Jags up 15-10.

After a basket by forward Ronneka Robertson, Walker hit another to push South Alabama’s lead to 10.

Sholtes cut the score to 20-12 with a layup, but then Walker hit her third three-pointer of the game to run the lead out to 11.

A 3-pointer from Reynolds and jumper from forward Cylenthia Kennon cemented the 16-2 run.

South Alabama went right back to work offensively in the second half, stretching its lead from 35-22 at halftime to 48-23 with 12:58 to play.

The Lady Toppers’ first points of the second half didn’t come until a layup from sophomore forward Mimi Hill with 11:33 left.

WKU’s 11 second half points were its lowest single-half total of the year.

Saturday’s loss, which came in the Lady Toppers’ road finale, puts the team’s final road record at 1-13 for the year.

WKU’s next game will be in Diddle Arena on Wednesday against Arkansas State.

The Herald was unable to receive direct comment from Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles following the game.