Scholtes comes off the bench to lead WKU to first win of season

Brad Stephens

WKU went to Birmingham this weekend hoping to jump start its season after an 0-4 start.

The Lady Toppers found an unlikely source to get the job done on Friday.

Sophomore guard Ellen Scholtes played 21 minutes off the bench, scored a career-high 11 points and hit a game-winning free throw in WKU’s 58-57 win over Samford in the first round of the UAB Thanksgiving Classic at Bartow Arena.

Scholtes had just four minutes of game action this season coming into Friday.

But as starting guards Alexis Govan and Chaney Means combined to score just two points in 19 total minutes, Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles turned to her bench to find guard production.

Along with Scholtes, senior Vanessa Obafemi provided the Lady Topper guards with a spark from outside their starting five.

Obafemi notched five points, six rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes of play.

Obafemi and Scholtes’ strong backcourt performance complemented another big game from senior forward LaTeira Owens.

Owens scored 21 points and recorded 10 rebounds — game-highs in both categories.

It was an Owens jump shot that broke a 45-45 tie with 6:38 to play, giving WKU a late two-point lead.

Senior forward Jasmine Johnson stretched the lead to four with a layup, but Bulldog guard Paige Anderson answered for Samford.

Anderson hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one, then hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 51-50 lead.

That’s when Scholtes went on a four-point run of her own, hitting two free throws and making a layup that put the Lady Toppers back in front, 53-50, with 4:15 to play.

But Samford guard Jazmine Martin came back with a 3, her second of the game, to tie the score at 53.

Guard Jazmine Powers put the Bulldogs back in the lead with a jump shot, but Scholtes answered at the other end with two free throws to pull the teams back even at 55.

Samford guard Ruth Ketcham and WKU’s Johnson traded a pair of foul shots, putting the score at 57-57 with just under two minutes to play.

Scholtes then forced a steal defensively but couldn’t convert a subsequent layup, and the game remained tied.

She made up for the missed shot by rebounding an Anderson missed 3-pointer and getting fouled on the Lady Toppers’ next possession.

Scholtes made one of her two free throws to give WKU a 58-57 lead.

Samford had one last chance after Owens turned the ball over to the Bulldogs with 19 seconds to play.

But Johnson blocked the Bulldogs’ last shot at the buzzer to clinch the Lady Topper win.

WKU will look for its second straight win at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday when it faces tournament host Alabama-Birmingham.