Lady Toppers rout Louisiana-Lafayette for second straight road win

Cole Claybourn

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles has said several times this year that she’s curious what would happen when the Lady Toppers played 40 solid minutes of basketball.

She may have gotten her answer Saturday.

Aside from an early two-point deficit, the Lady Toppers (12-14, 9-5 Sun Belt Conference) were in control of their entire game at Louisiana-Lafayette, defeating ULL, 69-49, to win their second straight road game.

“We’ve struggled early on this season with being able to maintain focus and intensity,” Cowles said. “But all in all, it was a very good effort. I’m very proud of them for putting it together.”

It was the first time this season that the Lady Toppers won two road games in a row. It was also their second straight win after the departure of sophomore forward Janae Howard on Monday.

The game was tied at seven early on, but WKU went on a 10-0 run to go up 17-7 midway through the first half. From there, it was all Lady Toppers.

They eventually stretched their lead to 36-20 after freshman guard Chaney Means hit a 3-pointer, and they went into halftime with a 14-point lead.

All the Lady Toppers did from there was build on their lead, eventually stretching it to 21 midway through the second half. ULL (11-16, 4-10 Sun Belt) never got closer than 14 points in the second half.

“We went into the half with that 14-point lead, and we came out in the second half and allowed ourselves to build on that,” Cowles said. “We’re still going to see some mistakes, like some weak-side rotation that wasn’t there every time and some things like that, but I’m just happy with how they responded after Wednesday.

“I felt like this team was smart enough to realize that this game was as important as the game on Wednesday night.”

The win keeps the Lady Toppers’ hopes of a No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt Conference alive, as well as their hopes of finishing the season with a .500 record.

WKU will have to win its remaining two games to finish the regular season with a .500 record, but just one win will solidify a No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt’s East division.

With a No. 2 seed, the Lady Toppers would receive a first-round bye and have to play three games in three days, rather than four games in four days, in order to win the conference tournament.

Three Lady Toppers scored in double figures against ULL. Junior forward LaTeira Owens led all scorers with 16 points and added seven rebounds, and senior forward Arnika Brown had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Junior forward Keisha Mosley added 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

“We just tried to attack the middle of their zone,” Mosley said. “That’s what we’ve been taught to do.”

The Lady Toppers dominated on the boards, out-rebounding ULL, 52-25.

The Lady Toppers shot just 37.9 percent from the field, but they scored 32 points in the paint, compared to ULL’s 18.

Owens said rebounding and getting put-backs were keys to WKU’s win.

“That’s what we do well,” she said. “That’s what we get momentum off of — those second, third chances. Rebounding is our game, so if we don’t rebound, something’s wrong.”

Defensively, WKU forced 17 turnovers and held ULL to 37.5 percent shooting. ULL was also 0-of-7 from 3-point range.

The Lady Toppers will head back home Wednesday to face Florida International on Senior Night. The last time the two teams met, the Lady Toppers blew an 11-point halftime lead and got outscored by 26 points in the second half to lose 69-54 in Miami.

Tip-off for Wednesday’s game is set for 7:30 p.m.