Owens, new faces shine at Hysteria

Cole Claybourn

It happens time and time again in sports — when an injury sidelines a player and someone else steps up in their presence.

Friday’s Hilltopper Hysteria was no different for the Lady Toppers.

With senior forward Arnika Brown and sophomore forward Janae Howard sitting out with injuries, junior forward LaTeira Owens used the opportunity to show WKU fans what she’s capable of.

Owens had 12 of the Red team’s 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, leading them to an 18-10 win over the White team in the 15-minute running clock scrimmage.

But Owens was quick to deflect the attention from her to talk about how the team looked in the scrimmage, despite being shorthanded without two of its leaders.

“It felt good. We just wanted to play hard from the jump,” she said. “That’s the main thing from tonight. We just wanted to play hard, and I guess it showed.”

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles said Brown had a “slight” pull in her hamstring, but is “fine” and should be back in practice this weekend.

“It’s only Oct. 15, so we didn’t want to chance anything and just give her the appropriate amount of time that our athletic training staff thinks she needs,” Cowles said.

Howard’s injury came after suffering a bad fall in practice at the beginning of last week, Cowles said, adding that keeping her out of the festivities Friday night was a precautionary measure as well.

“With both of them, we just felt like it was best, being as early as it is in the season (to sit them),” Cowles said.

Owens’ success wasn’t a huge surprise considering she’s one of eight upperclassmen on this season’s roster. But for WKU’s three freshmen, Hilltopper Hysteria and playing with the team in a scrimmage was a whole new experience.

Cowles said she was particularly pleased with what she saw from freshman point guard Chaney Means, who started at point guard for the Red team.

“She’s a basketball player that’s grown up with the ball in her hand and running the point,” Cowles said. “It’s no surprise how well-adjusted she has demonstrated herself.”

Means admitted to feeling nervous before Hysteria, but said those feelings didn’t last long once she started playing.

“It’s awesome just seeing the support that WKU has, and I saw a lot of students out there,” she said. “It’s cool to see the people that you go to class with supporting you. I’m excited (for the season), and I can tell that I’ve gotten a lot better in just the few weeks I’ve had here.”