Mosley carries Lady Toppers to 49-45 Education Day win

WKU senior Keshia Mosley works her way past Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense to shoot a field goal during their game on Wed., Jan. 4 at Diddle Arena. WKU won 49-45.

Brad Stephens

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles challenged Keshia Mosley at halftime Wednesday.

The senior forward had been quiet in the first half against Louisiana-Lafayette, with two points and two rebounds in six minutes.

But Mosley scored 19 of WKU’s 22 points in the second half and led the Lady Toppers to a 49-45 win over the Ragin’ Cajuns Wednesday at the second annual “Spread the Red” Education Day in Diddle Arena.

What was Cowles halftime message to Mosley?

“I think my quote was, ‘You’re the strongest player on the basketball floor in this basketball game, and you need to act like it,’” Cowles said. “I think she took that to heart.”

Mosley stood tall for WKU (4-10, 2-1 Sun Belt Conference) in the second half as the Ragin’ Cajuns attempted to come back from a 27-16 halftime deficit.

ULL (5-9, 0-2) opened the period on a 10-2 run to cut WKU’s lead to 29-26 at the 16:11 mark.

But back-to-back Mosley layups pushed the lead back to seven.

Then on the next Lady Topper possession Mosley collected the rebound from freshman forward Chastity Gooch’s missed jump shot and put the ball back in while drawing a foul.

The rebound was one of her 16 for the day, including eight offensive.

She hit the ensuing foul shot, and then hit two more on WKU’s next trip to give the Lady Toppers a 38-26 lead.

She stepped up big time,” senior guard Vanessa Obafemi said of Mosley. “We needed her, obviously.”

Guard Krystal Motley, who came into Wednesday as ULL’s leading scorer with 11.6 points per game, scored 24 points in an attempt to pull the Ragin’ Cajuns back into the game.

But the trend of the Ragin’ Cajuns looking to make a run, only to be answered by Mosley, continued much of the rest of the game.

She was the only Lady Topper to score in the second half until senior forward Teranie Thomas hit a free throw with 3:25 to play.

ULL whittled the lead all the way down to 47-45 with 2:24 remaining on a layup by guard Megan Whittaker.

Sophomore guard Chaney Means followed with what may have been the biggest shot of the day for WKU.

Freshman guard Alexis Govan, who scored 11 points Wednesday, missed a three-pointer.

The missed shot caromed to Means, who leaned from just outside the left side of the paint and banked in a running jumper.

Means’ made basket, good for her only points of the day, gave WKU the 49-45 advantage that proved to be the final score.

The Ragin’ Cajuns’ comeback attempt appeared eerily similar to Louisiana-Monroe’s successful comeback against WKU on Dec. 29.

In that game, the Lady Toppers allowed a 15-point lead to slip away in the closing stages of the game.

But this time WKU was able to hold on for the win.

“We learned from our loss to Monroe that we have to keep our intensity up and not let down,” said Obafemi, who finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, good for her first career double-double. “We definitely didn’t want a repeat of that game.”

Wednesday’s game was played in front of a crowd of 3,414, which included about 2,500 students and staff from several area middle schools.

It was a smaller crowd than was on hand for the inaugural Education Day.

On that day, Feb. 2 of last year, the Lady Toppers defeated South Alabama 56-41 in front of 6,109 Bowling Green and Warren County 3-6 grade students.

Even with the smaller amount of students, Mosley said the team appreciated what was by far the Lady Toppers’ largest home crowd of the year, as WKU had been averaging just 769 fans per home contest before Wednesday.

“We love the crowd,” Mosley said. “There’s nothing better than having a bunch of kids come out and watch you play.”

WKU and South Alabama started sluggishly in last year’s Education Day game, combining to shoot 0-for-13 out of the gates.

The Lady Toppers and Ragin’ Cajuns didn’t start much better on Wednesday.

ULL had just two points until the 11:47 mark of the first half, and shot 24 percent over the game’s first 20 minutes, including a dreadful 1-of-10 from behind the arc.

Meanwhile WKU managed to shoot a decent 40.7 percent in the first half, but was hampered with 17 turnovers, compared with six assists.

The Lady Toppers finished the game with seven assists and 26 turnovers.

Gooch and senior forward LaTeira Owens especially struggled offensively.

The pair came into Wednesday averaging a combined 16.5 points per game, but both finished scoreless in 25 combined minutes.

“I think the saying ‘A win’s a win’ comes in play on this,” said Cowles, who received a technical for arguing an out-of-bounds call in the second half. “It was not a very pretty game.

“We didn’t play a great basketball game, but we won.”

WKU rounds out a short two-game home-stand against Troy at 1 p.m. Saturday in Diddle Arena.

The Trojans (1-12) have struggled throughout the season, being outscored by 12.4 points per game.

Guard DeAngela Sword, who averages 13.3 points per contest, is Troy’s lone double-digit scorer.

Obafemi said Wednesday’s win puts the Lady Toppers in a good position for Saturday and the rest of the Sun Belt schedule.

“We still have 13 more conference games,” she said. “We think we’re in a good position to win those and have a good spot for the conference tournament.”