Lady Tops go cold in second half of 70-60 loss to Texas Tech

Junior forward Keisha Mosley fights off multiple defenders during Wednesday night’s game against Texas Tech. Mosley ended the night with a game-high 20 points, but the Lady Toppers lost the game, 70-60.

Zach Greenwell

The Lady Toppers did everything they could to rally against Texas Tech Wednesday.

But in the end, WKU may have tried to do a little too much.

The Lady Toppers (4-8) shot 29.4 percent in the second half, allowing Texas Tech to escape Diddle Arena with a 70-60 win.

“I think we were more worried about getting back in the game and making shots that we forgot about everything,” sophomore forward Janae Howard said. “We stopped going to the boards. I guess we thought we had a five-point shot that we could make to automatically tie the game, but I don’t know.

“We stopped doing the little things because we were so anxious to get back ahead. Everything else went out the window.”

The game was marked by quick scoring bursts and long droughts for WKU, with the lead changing eight times.

The most damaging of those lulls was a stretch of four minutes late in the game in which the Lady Toppers were held scoreless.

They took a 54-53 lead on a jumper by Howard with 5:56 left but didn’t score again until a 3-pointer by freshman guard Chaney Means with 1:25 remaining.

Texas Tech (12-1) rattled off an 11-0 run during that time, securing the win.

“In the end, I think it was a reflection of our offense affecting our defense when we struggled shooting,” Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “And it’s got to be the other way around.”

The Lady Raiders opened their largest lead of the game at 31-18 with 3:39 left in the first half behind 12 straight points from guard Chynna Brown.

But the swings kept coming, as WKU answered with a 10-0 run to close out the half. Senior guard Amy McNear and junior forward Keisha Mosley scored all 10 of those final points, bringing the Lady Toppers within 31-28 at halftime.

“We passed the ball well,” Cowles said. “We were just very confident and very composed when we made that run.”

WKU reclaimed a 37-35 lead at the 16:13 mark of the second half with a layup by Mosley. But the Lady Toppers again hit a long rough patch, going almost seven minutes before their next field goal.

“Instead of letting the game flow, maybe we tried to structure things a little too much,” Cowles said. “You’ve got to stay in the mode of just playing basketball in a game.”

WKU had enough left in the tank to take the 54-53 lead with six minutes left, but the rim closed for service again just as quickly.

Means finally got the Lady Toppers back on the board with a 3-pointer with 1:25 left, but the damage was done at that point.

“It hurts. It hurts a lot,” Howard said. “You can see it on all our faces when we walk down the hall. You can see it when we come out of the locker room. It hurts a lot. We knew we had it, and we just couldn’t close it out.”

WKU shot 50 percent in the first half but missed 24 shots after the break, including 11 3-pointers.

“We just made them take contested shots from the perimeter,” Texas Tech Head Coach Kristy Curry said. “We did a better job contesting shots and giving them one opportunity, and I thought that was the difference down the stretch.”

The Lady Toppers got 45 of their 60 points from the bench, primarily from Mosley and Howard.

Mosley tied her WKU career high for points with 20 and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

The former Purdue transfer said she thrives on playing high-caliber teams like Texas Tech, taking their physicality as a challenge.

“I’m used to it,” Mosley said. “That’s pretty much what I can say. I’m used to playing girls that are either bigger than me or my same size. I personally like playing teams like that. It kind of gets you in the feel of the NCAA (tournament), trying to get there.

“That’s what I feel like our team is very capable of doing.”

Howard added 16 points, while McNear pitched in nine points and seven rebounds.

Seniors Arnika Brown and Hope Brown were each held scoreless.

Forward Kierra Mallard led Texas Tech with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Chynna Brown had 16.

The Lady Raiders turned the ball over 24 times but overcame the miscues by shooting 51.9 percent from the field and out-rebounding WKU, 39-30. They scored 42 of their 70 points in the paint.

WKU now turns its attention to Sun Belt play, where the Lady Toppers are already 1-0 after a road win at Troy on Dec. 1.

They play at Arkansas State at 2 p.m. Sunday, and Howard said the team will use the fight it put up against Texas Tech as motivation.

“I think we should do really well in our conference,” she said. “We’re really hungry to get wins now that we are going to be in our conference.”