Lady Toppers home again, host Kent State

Cole Claybourn

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said she’s glad to finally be back home.

It’s been nearly a month since the Lady Toppers’ last home game, and it was a tough road stretch for them.

They lost three out of the four games during that stretch by an average of 15 points and never held a lead in any of those losses.

That stretch finally came to an end, and WKU (1-5) will open up a four-game homestand at 7 p.m. tonight against Kent State (6-1).

“At one point I felt like we were on the road for two months, and it seemed like we weren’t going to ever see Diddle again,” senior guard Hope Brown said. “I’m just glad we’re back for some home games.”

After their convincing 17-point win over conference rival Troy last Wednesday, Cowles and the players said they’re looking to maintain that momentum tonight.

“We’re playing really well right now,” senior forward Arnika Brown said. “As soon as we got back from that game, the first thing we did was watch film because all we want to do is build from that.”

Today’s game will mark the first meeting between the two schools. But that doesn’t mean Cowles is unfamiliar with Kent State senior guard Jamilah Humes.

Humes has accumulated more than 1,000 points in her career and leads the Golden Flashes in points per game (14.7), assists per game (4.3) and steals per game (2.9). She’s also shooting 46 percent from three-point range.

Another Kent State senior, forward Taisja Jones, is averaging 14.4 points per game to go along with 2.7 steals per game.

Arnika Brown said the key to stopping Humes and Jones will be playing solid one-on-one defense.

“We try not to worry about who’s the powerhouse on the other team because we have a few of our own,” she said. “Everyone just needs to buckle down on defense. That’s how we beat Troy.”

Cowles said it’s easy to see how well Humes and Jones work together, and defending them will take a whole team effort.

“We just need to be smart with what they’re trying to do and understand their specific concepts offensively,” she said. “We just have to maintain our focus defensively and take away the things that they’re trying to do.”

One glaring statistic that the Lady Toppers will have to overcome is that Kent State is averaging 70 points per game to the Lady Toppers’ 58. To go along with that, the Golden Flashes have held their opponents to an average of 58 points per game while the Lady Toppers have allowed 66.7 per game.

Kent State is also holding opponents to 25 percent from the 3-point range.

Cowles said she’ll be happy to get her top 3-point threat back — sophomore forward Janae Howard, who sat out Wednesday’s game against Troy with a calf injury — in order to counter Kent State’s perimeter defense.

“She’s just a very talented young lady, so it’s always important to have her ready to play,” Cowles said. “With her being available, that will just continue to add value to what we’re able to do.”