Lady Tops prepare for Senior Night, look to clinch No. 2 seed

Guard Amy McNear will be one of three seniors honored when the Lady Toppers host Florida International in their final home game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Cole Claybourn

Wednesday appears to be a very important day for the Lady Toppers.

With a win over Florida International, the Lady Toppers (12-14, 9-5 SBC) would clinch the No. 2 seed in the Sun Belt tournament and earn a first-round bye.

But Wednesday will be especially big for WKU’s three seniors.

With it being the Lady Toppers’ final home game of the season, Wednesday will also serve as Senior Night for Arnika Brown, Hope Brown, and Amy McNear.

Hope Brown said she already knows she’ll be filled with nerves before the game even starts.

“I hope I don’t get emotional. I can’t say that I won’t,” she said. “It’s going to be a little shaky at first, but once that adrenaline gets going, those nerves seem to go away at that point, and you’re just playing the game.”

McNear said Senior Night has been on her mind for a while and said she’s been anticipating the game.

But that doesn’t mean it will be easy for her to leave.

“I’ve been here for four years, so this is going to be hard to go away from,” she said. “Bowling Green is a great city and a great environment to be around.”

Senior Night won’t bring any surprises for Arnika Brown.

Brown was honored in last year’s Senior Night because for all she knew, it was going to be her last home game as a Lady Topper.

Brown originally transferred from the University of Kentucky before she played as a freshman at WKU and had not yet been granted a release from the school.

But soon after the 2009-10 season ended, Kentucky granted her a release from her transfer and rewarded her with another year of eligibility.

And now she gets another chance to be honored on Senior Night.

But Brown said this time, it’s “for real.”

“I’m just going to have about 10 people walking me on the floor because I know this is the end of it,” Brown said. “There’s no coming back. There are no years popping up or anything. Ashton Kutcher’s not popping out of anywhere. I’m not being punked.”

Brown’s time at WKU has been like one big book, and she said this is just a chapter that’s eventually going to have to end in the next couple of weeks.

“I’m a very blessed kid to have the opportunities that I had,” she said. “But I’m here, and I’m still standing. I’m excited.”

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said Senior Night is always an emotional night for those involved, and her especially.

“It’s a night where we can reflect back on what those seniors have done and what they’ve achieved,” Cowles said. “The best thing is that these three are going to walk out of here with degrees. That’s ultimately what this success story is all about.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Diddle Arena.

Lady Toppers still focused on game, seeking revenge

Wednesday will mark the second meeting of the season between the Lady Toppers and FIU (13-15, 8-6 Sun Belt Conference),.

In their first meeting on Jan. 26, WKU squandered an 11-point halftime lead and was outscored by 26 in the second half, eventually losing 69-54.

“We just did not respond well in the second half of that game whatsoever,” Cowles said. “There’s a lot that we can learn from that game. We take things from both halves of that game – things that we did good, and things that we did not so good.”

The Lady Toppers are coming off two road wins, including a two-point upset of the Sun Belt’s top team – UALR – and a 20-point win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Hope Brown said the team adopted a bigger sense of unity on their road trip, and she said it will be important for them to maintain the momentum that they gained from both wins.

“We’re coming off a lot of adrenaline and now everyone’s just going out and playing. We’re just having fun again,” she said. “But we still need to come out and play our game and be under control.”

History on Lady Toppers’ side

According to WKU Athletic Media Relations, the Lady Toppers have won 27 out of the last 29 games on Senior Night.

The two losses came in 1991 when WKU lost to UAB, 76-68, and in 2001 when Arkansas State won, 98-96.