Lady Toppers picked third in preseason Sun Belt East polls

Brad Stephens

The Lady Toppers will likely have to exceed the

expectations of Sun Belt Conference coaches this season if they

wish to qualify for postseason play.

WKU was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt East

Division in the Preseason Coaches’ Poll, released Tuesday


Middle Tennessee State garnered 68 overall votes in

the poll, with a league-high nine first-place votes, good for first

in the East.

Following the Lady Raiders in the division was

Florida International (58, 1) WKU (48, 1) South Alabama (38)

Florida Atlantic (23, 1) and Troy (17).

Denver received 62 overall votes (six first-place) to

be picked first in the West division, edging Arkansas State (56, 1)

and defending league champion Arkansas Little-Rock (53, 3).

Rounding out the West Division was Louisiana-Monroe

(29), North Texas (28, 1) and Louisiana-Lafayette (24, 1).

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said Monday on the Sun

Belt Media Day teleconference she thinks the league is as strong as


“I feel like our league has continued to strengthen,

not only with the players that are playing the game but with the

coaches that are on the sideline,” Cowles said. “And that’s a lot

of fun to be a part of and coach against.”

Last season the Lady Toppers went 9-7 in regular

season conference play before bowing out of the Sun Belt Tournament

with a 66-59 loss to UALR.

Forward LaTeira Owens earned preseason second-team

all-league honors.

The 6-foot-1 senior averaged 10.5 points and 6.6

rebounds a game last season, and is the Lady Toppers’ leading

returning scorer.

She was the only WKU player named to any of the three

preseason All-Sun Belt teams.

“(LaTeira) and I had our longest talk in the spring

after the season and it’s just kind of ironic that the league

thinks of her like this,” Cowles said. “She could’ve cared less

about this. She’s extremely focused and self-driven and I know this

senior season means a lot to her.”

Denver senior Kaetlyn Murdoch and MTSU sophomore

Ebony Rowe were voted Co-Preseason Players of the Year in the