Lady Toppers off to worst start in history

Cole Claybourn

There’s a common trend plaguing WKU early this season.

In each of the Lady Toppers’ first five games, they’ve found themselves in a hole they can’t climb out of in the second half.

The result has been the first 0-5 start in program history.

“Each loss continues to affect us mentally,” Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “I don’t know how you end up circling around and coming out of that. We’ve got to figure that out as a team.”

The Lady Toppers have been able to make a comeback, including a 17-point comeback against Northwestern that cut the lead to one. They also cut a nine-point lead down to two just before halftime against Central Florida before eventually losing by eleven.

But Cowles said WKU simply can’t get over the hump and take a lead once the comeback is made, and she’s not quite sure what’s causing that.

“That’s something we’ll continue to work on and try to figure out,” Cowles said. “That falls back on me in getting them to understand the importance of those little things that we’ve got to get done.”

It doesn’t help that WKU hasn’t held a lead aside from two, early on against Northwestern and Michigan State, with their latest coming with 18:33 left in the first half. The Lady Toppers have been outscored by a combined 339-270 points through five games.

The reason they’ve been outscored by such a large margin can be attributed to how they’ve shot the ball so far. They’ve shot over 40 percent from the field just once this season – at Louisiana Tech – and are shooting 30 percent from the field on the season.

WKU’s also averaging just fewer than 24 turnovers a game, highlighted by 33 at Duke.

“It just continues to be a lot of the same things,” Cowles said. “That falls back on me in getting them to understand the importance of those little things that we’ve got to get done.”

It hasn’t been all bad for the Lady Toppers, though. In a schedule that’s put them against two Big Ten teams and No. 6 Duke, they’ve managed to out-rebound their opponents in all but one of those games.

Junior forward LaTeira Owens said WKU simply can’t seem to get all the parts working at the same time.

“We do one thing one night and turn around and don’t do it the next night,” she said. “We’ve got to be consistently right. When we come in to practice, we’ve got to make sure we focus on offense and defense at the same time.”

Senior point guard Amy McNear, who missed the first three games due to suspension, said the Lady Toppers seem to still be suffering from cold feet on the court.

“None of us have been patient with the ball, and we just can’t get in to a flow offensively,” she said.

Owens said they could start by hitting the easy shots and taking care of simple defensive tasks.

“The missed layups and put-backs – that’s all mental,” Owens said. “We need to focus more on those. We need to come out in the second half strong like we’ve done in the first half.”

WKU’s next chance comes at 7 p.m. Wednesday when the Lady Toppers begin Sun Belt Conference play at Troy.