Lady Toppers hoping to continue home momentum

Cole Claybourn

Coming off Wednesday’s 15-point win over South Alabama, the Lady Toppers will once again try to build some momentum at home.

They’ll have to do so against a Louisiana-Monroe team that Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said may present a tough challenge.

“We’re going to have to earn this,” Cowles said. “They’re a very physical team that can score in a variety of ways. They’re a very confident team and have gained more confidence as the season has gone on. They have a very good post game as well, so that’s going to be a big challenge for us.”

ULM comes in with a 12-11 record, including a 6-4 record in the Sun Belt — just like WKU.

After a four-game losing streak, which included three losses to Sun Belt opponents, ULM rattled off four straight wins over Sun Belt teams before losing by 29 to Middle Tennessee on Wednesday.

Despite the struggles that ULM had early in conference play, Cowles said it has a winning record for a reason.

ULM ranks in the top five in just about ever statistical category in the Sun Belt and has three players ranked in the top 30 in the conference in terms of scoring averages.

ULM’s Larrie Williams and Kassie Courtney are both averaging double-digit points, while Sannisha Williams isn’t far behind at 9.8 points per game.

Cowles said the Lady Toppers have to come with an aggressive defensive effort on Saturday if they want to win.

“It’s the fact that we can’t key on one or two players at all with this Monroe team,” she said. “We have to understand player personnel position by position along with what they bring in off the bench.

“They’ve got depth in the post with what they come off the bench with. But even their perimeter game is aggressive as well.”

ULM also has the scoring and rebounding advantage over WKU, leading both categories by one per game.

The Lady Toppers may have to compete on the boards without their second leading rebounder, junior forward LaTeira Owens.

Owens suffered a sprained ankle in Monday’s practice and missed Wednesday’s game against South Alabama. Cowles said Owens’ chances of playing are “less than 50 percent.”

Saturday’s game will be the second of three straight games for the Lady Toppers at Diddle Arena, where they’re 7-4 this season. With it being their last home stand of the season, Cowles stressed the importance of taking advantage of the home games.

“Playing at Diddle is great, but it doesn’t necessarily give us any points on the board,” she said. “But it’s great to be here at home to kind of not have the ‘road weary’ that comes when you travel. But we’ve got to take care of business. It’s not going to be given to us by any means.”

The Lady Toppers brought in a crowd of more than 7,000 for Wednesday’s “Spread the Red Education Day” event and are looking to use the momentum of another special promotion Saturday.

In connection with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, WKU will wear pink uniforms in honor of breast cancer awareness.

Cowles said it will be a special day for the Lady Topper program for several reasons.

“It’s a great way for our team to join forces with the WBCA and make a statement that there is a fight out there against breast cancer,” she said. “We’re going to be able to introduce some breast cancer survivors and be able to recognize other women who have had that challenge in their life, but have stood up to the fight and have fought through it extremely hard.”

Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of former Lady Topper Cacie Pope’s passing after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

And because of that, Cowles said Pope will be in the Lady Toppers’ thoughts on Saturday.

“The timing and everything is very unique with this year’s breast cancer awareness game,” she said. “Some of us in this program have been touched by this type of disease as far as a loved one or someone who was a part of this program.

“This game has an added dimension for the several of us. A lot of us shared and fought with (Pope) in her battle against that.”

Fortune might even be on the Lady Toppers side Saturday. They’re undefeated in the pink uniforms they’ve traditionally worn for the promotion.

“Maybe that can be considered our home uniform for the rest of the season,” Cowles said.