WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Lady Tops best in Sun Belt again

J. Michael Moore

The celebration was labored, but it was effective.

With 1 minute and 58 seconds left to play in Western’s 76-67 victory over Chicago State, senior guard Kristina Covington hit the shot she had been searching for.

It was the shot she had been wanting for the past four years.

Covington hit her only 3-pointer of the game — the crown jewel of a miserable 2-for-13 shooting night.

Nothing special, except that it made her the newest member of Western’s 1,000-point club.

Covington jumped in the air and pumped her fist after the shot, then got back on defense.

The Lady Toppers were clinging to a 68-60 advantage. There was little time for formalities.

Even after the game, Covington said more about her team’s nail-biting victory and endurance than about her accomplishment.

“At the beginning of the game, I was thinking about the 1,000 points,” Covington said. “(Chicago State) never really played me the way I wanted them to play me. I was worried about what we were doing as a team.”

As a team, the Lady Toppers struggled.

An 8-2 run to open the game dissolved quickly as Western went toe-to-toe with an athletic Lady Cougar squad.

The Lady Toppers began to visibly lose their cool against a rambunctious 2-3 zone.

“We did not penetrate,” head coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “We stood a lot with the ball over our head. It took us a long time, but we found it … We found a way to win tonight.”

But the confidence level never dropped, no matter how many sloppy plays or frowns haunted the Lady Toppers.

The confidence would bring out the savior in Leslie Logsdon.

The junior guard had a game-high 25 points, mostly in 3-pointers, that kept Western above water.

“I think we came out and some of us weren’t focused, and it moved over to the other people out on the court with them,” Logsdon said.

Logsdon added that every night she feels like she can find a way to help her team win.

The game was tied at 54 with 5:32 left.

Logsdon scored 10 of the Lady Toppers’ final 23 points.

Despite its athleticism, Chicago State (11-14, 7-5 Mid-Continent Conference) found itself losing momentum at the end and unable to take advantage of Western’s 38 percent shooting night.

The Lady Cougars were also playing just their fourth game without Krisey Sanders, who fell Feb. 10 to an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Sanders led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.

“Our game plan has been the same all season,” Lady Cougar head coach Cheryl Littlejohn said. “Down the stretch, I would say that they got some transition baskets, and the momentum started going their way.”

Reach J. Michael Moore at [email protected]