Lady Toppers blow 14-point lead, lose by 20 to Wright State

Brad Stephens

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles called the Lady Toppers’ loss to Wright State Tuesday “a tale of two halves.”

WKU broke out to a 14-point lead in the first half while holding the Raiders to 20 percent three-point shooting.

But Wright State hit 9-of-15 three-point shots in second half, erasing the deficit and then running away with an 86-66 win in front of a crowd of 603 at Diddle Arena.

The loss dropped the Lady Toppers to 0-4 on the year, including three home defeats.

“We switched up a lot of defenses in the second half trying to find something, and nothing was working,” Cowles said. “We didn’t stand up to that. I can’t explain it to be honest.”

Senior forward Jasmine Johnson pulled in an offensive rebound and hit a jump shot on WKU’s first second-half possession to give her team a 39-29 lead.

But Raiders guard Kim Demmings went down and hit two consecutive jumpers, and guard Courtney Boyd hit a three to quickly cut the Lady Topper lead to three.

“They just kind of smacked us on their very first offensive play,” Cowles said, “and we never responded — never responded to that.”

The teams traded baskets for the next several minutes, and a free throw made by senior forward LaTeira Owens tied the game at 48 with 12:46 to play.

Wright State then launched a 13-point run, getting another three-pointer from Boyd and back-to-back threes from guard Kayla Lamotte during a stretch of play that lasted just over three-and-a-half minutes.

“They just shot the ball,” Owens said. “I mean they shot contested shots. They shot uncontested shots. They just shot the ball.”

Meanwhile WKU went through five straight scoreless possessions during the Raiders’ run.

“Our offense didn’t do anything in the second half,” Cowles said. “I think it’s one of those situations where we did not shoot well and our defense suffered for it.”

WKU never cut the deficit to single-digits the rest of the way.

Demmings led the Raiders with 25 points, 16 of those coming in the second half.

Meanwhile Boyd hit a game-high five threes on 11 attempts, and finished with 17 points for the night.

“When (Boyd) got hot, we did not respond in a good way as far as really tightening up the defense on her and making her put it on the floor as opposed to letting her continue to have space to get a shot off,” Cowles said. “We’ve got to be able to make adjustments like that.”

Johnson said she thought the team stayed in a zone defense for too long in the second half, not reacting quickly enough to Wright State’s torrid outside shooting.

“When they started shooting we should’ve switched it to man,” Johnson said.

While the Lady Toppers struggled on the perimeter, WKU got good production on both ends of the court from its post players, specifically Johnson and Owens.

Johnson, making her first career start, finished with 10 points and a team-high 14 rebounds for her first career double-double.

Owens also notched a double-double, tallying 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Defensively, the pair helped contain the Raiders’ Molly Fox, a second-team All-Horizon League selection one year ago.

Fox fouled out after scoring six points in 17 minutes of play.

“I thought our post was reaching for every opportunity they could to help our basketball team,” Cowles said. “I’m so proud of Jasmine Johnson and LaTeira Owens…What more could those two have stepped up and tried to do for us?”

While Johnson and Owens notched double-doubles, fellow senior frontcourt mate Keshia Mosley scored three points in 11 minutes of play, shooting 0-of-6 from the floor.

Cowles said she’d like to see more consistency from Mosley, who came into the game averaging more than eight points a contest.

The Lady Toppers will now travel to Birmingham to take part in the UAB/Samford Classic.

WKU plays Samford at 3:30 p.m. on Friday before taking on UAB at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

With a 0-4 record, the Lady Toppers find themselves in familiar territory, as they started last season 0-5.

Owens said the team will look to turn the fortunes of its season, starting with practice on Wednesday.

“It’s going to start tomorrow,” Owens “We’re going work hard and try to figure out what’s going on and what’s not working and what’s working. It’s going to end tonight.”