WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Lady tops trounce Butler, 86-57

J. Michael Moore

After last Thursday’s 80-68 victory at Florida International, the Lady Toppers had to let some air out of their heads.

It was a big conference win, and Western was admittedly overflowing with confidence.

But judging from last night’s 86-57 thrashing of Butler in Diddle Arena, Western (12-8, 6-2) had no trouble regaining its composure and living up to its ranking at the top of the Sun Belt Conference.

“We came out of the FIU game, and our heads were kind of big,” senior guard Kristina Covington said. “We had to make sure we stayed focus.

“I think we clicked at the beginning of the season, then we went down for a while. Now we’re back.”

And Butler was there to welcome the Lady Toppers home.

The Lady Bulldogs (4-16, 2-7) limped into Diddle Arena and crawled out after one of Western’s best offensive performances of the season.

Freshman guard Tiffany Porter-Talbert led five Lady Toppers in double figures with 15.

Her roommate, Tiffiany Diggins, was a pleasant surprise throwing in a season-high 10 points.

Diggins, a senior, said she feels her time is running out, and wants to mirror her team’s focus by pumping up her own.

“We’re preparing to win a championship,” she said. “These are my last practices and last games. I have to give them my all.”

Butler got the first basket of the game, but the Lady Toppers answered with a 24-6 run.

Western held Butler to a 34 percent shooting and had 45 rebounds to Butler’s 30 boards.

But it remains to be seen if the Lady Toppers can continue their four-game winning streak in the midst of conference heat.

Mary Taylor Cowles’ squad is tied with FIU, New Mexico State and Denver for the league’s best record.

The Lady Toppers have defeated FIU and New Mexico State, and are traveling today to Denver to get ready for an 8 p.m. game tomorrow against the Pioneers.

A win would give the Lady Toppers the No. 1 spot in the Sun Belt East Division and a top seed in the conference tournament.

“This group of girls has a vision,” Cowles said. “They don’t want anyone to come on their floor in March and take an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.”

When asked what it was like to finally be marked as one of the best in the league, Cowles responded, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Reach J. Michael Moore at [email protected]