Lady Toppers dominate Troy in 64-36 WKU win

Brad Stephens

“Fun” was the way Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles described WKU’s win over Troy Saturday.

The Lady Toppers had struggled throughout the season at playing well both offensively and defensively for a complete 40 minutes.

But WKU had no such struggles Saturday, never trailing in a 64-36 rout of Troy.

WKU (5-10, 3-1 Sun Belt Conference) held the Trojans (1-13, 0-4) to just 32 percent shooting, and forced 21 turnovers.

Troy’s offense struggled from the very beginning against an aggressive Lady Topper defense, held scoreless until the 11:24 mark of the first half.

“I think our defense is what really set the tone for us early,” Cowles said. “I thought we were able to carry that momentum throughout the game, not really hit one of our lulls that we’ve seen ourselves hit.

“Our defense obviously just carried right into our offense.”

Senior forward LaTeira Owens that powered WKU to the win Saturday.

Owens, the team’s second-leading scorer coming into Saturday averaging 7.4 points per game, didn’t score Wednesday in WKU’s 49-45 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

But the Columbia, Tenn., native had 21 points and five rebounds against Troy, game-highs in both categories.

“My team needs me to come out and play hard for them, and I want to do that for them,” Owens said.

Troy Head Coach Michael Murphy said the 6-foot-1 Owens presented a matchup problem for his team, which started four guards.

“She’s a big body and we had a lot of people playing out of position,” Murphy said. “I’ve got a lot of big guards trying to play power forward positions. At times I thought we did a pretty good job against her initially.

“It was on the offensive rebound, it was on the second chance that I thought her, and Western as a team hurt us.”

Owens scored the first four points for the Toppers on a jumper at the 18:22 mark of the first half and two free throws at 15:34.

A layup by senior center Jasmine Johnson, 3 by senior guard Vanessa Obafemi, tip-in by Owens and free throw by sophomore guard Chaney Means gave WKU a 12-0 lead with 12:27 to play in the first.

The Trojans went on a 7-2 run between the 11:24 and 9:27 marks of the half, cutting the Lady Topper lead to 14-7.

But that was as close as Troy would draw for the rest of the game.

Owens scored six points on a subsequent WKU run, pushing the Lady Toppers’ lead to 22-7.

After having trouble putting teams like Wright State and Louisiana-Monroe away early when they had the opportunity earlier this season, Cowles said it was good to see her team keep the foot on the gas and pull away from the Trojans.

“I think that’s progression and I think we need to make comment of that and make note of that and carry that forward though,” she said. “We need to see that we can do that and be positive with that.”

With the game’s outcome hardly in question, WKU’s bench got the chance to receive some extra time in the second half.

Especially strong off the bench was freshman guard Danay Fothergill, who scored eight points, two of which came on 3-point shots.

It was Fothergill’s highest-scoring output since coming back from a broken foot in late December.

Senior forward Keshia Mosley also had a big game for the Toppers, scoring 10 points.

Her double-digit effort came days after scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in WKU’s win over ULL.

“It was good to see Keshia Mosley put in another solid game, production-wise, effort-wise, back-to-back,” Cowles said. “It’s no secret we’re a much better team when Keshia Mosley plays well.”

Murphy said fatigue became a factor for his Trojans in the second half.

Troy took Middle Tennessee State to overtime on Thursday, and had less than 48 hours to recuperate before taking on the Toppers.

Meanwhile WKU had three full days to heal after their game against the Ragin’ Cajuns Wednesday.

“We played on Thursday a very difficult game, and I’ve got several players who it’s hard for them to play back-to-back,” Murphy said.

Owens said the Toppers’ conditioning and pace was as much of a factor in wearing Troy down as their tired legs from MTSU.

“We showed our conditioning and that we can run,” senior forward LaTeira Owens said. “We ran the whole game, played mad dog the whole game, so I just think that’s a compliment to us that we made them tired.”