Veteran Brown giving Lady Tops some consistency

Senior forward Arnika Brown defends the ball during WKU’s Jan. 22 home game against Troy. The Lady Toppers won 92-76.

Cole Claybourn

Senior forward Arnika Brown said she doesn’t care about awards or records.

But with the way she’s played in WKU’s eight Sun Belt Conference games, she’s in line to receive her fair share at the end of the season.

Brown is averaging 13.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in the Sun Belt and has posted a double-double in four of the eight conference games.

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said Brown has simply been “huge” for the team.

“That’s a preseason first-team all-conference player that is playing like that now,” she said. “Really, she’s got to provide that kind of consistency night in and night out, and she knows that.”

During the Lady Toppers’ (8-12, 5-3 SBC) most recent wins — double-digit victories over Florida Atlantic and Troy — Brown brought that consistency.

She scored 13 points with 10 rebounds against FAU on Jan. 16 and followed it up with 24 points and eight rebounds against Troy last Saturday. The wins were two of WKU’s largest margins of victory this season.

While Brown wasn’t as dominant offensively in Wednesday’s 69-54 loss at Florida International —scoring just seven points — she still pulled down six rebounds and found herself as a go-to option on offense in the second half.

 “I’ve been consistent here,” Brown said. “When I’m on the floor, defenses are going to react, and it opens a lot of things up.”

Sophomore forward Janae Howard said when the shots weren’t falling in the second half against FIU, the offensive plan was to get Brown the ball in the post and play inside-out basketball.

“Arnika and (junior forward) LaTeira (Owens) have been doing damage on the inside all season,” she said. “We tried to get the person that was guarding the perimeter players to be confused.”

Brown was able to draw a number of fouls against FIU but struggled at the free throw line, going 3-for-8.

But that was just one small hiccup in what’s been a record-setting season for Brown. Earlier this season against North Dakota, she became just the fourth Lady Topper player to amass 1,000 career rebounds.

And while she said she doesn’t care about records or awards, there’s still one feat that she said she wants to reach.

Before the season began, she said she would get 30 rebounds in a game sometime this season. While she joked about being old and in pain, Brown said 30 rebounds in a game is still a goal of hers.

“My knees have been hurting,” she said. “But I’m still going to go for it. With the type of rebounding that we have on the team — Keisha (Mosley), me, LaTeira and Jasmine (Johnson), we’ve pretty much been sharing the boards here lately.

“But this year has just been awesome, so I’m not too worried about it. Regardless of what happens, I’ve had a great year and a great career here at WKU.”