Lady Toppers generate record-tying 26 steals in 96-59 win over Kentucky State

Lady+Topper+sophomore+guard+Hope+Sivori+makes+a+cut+to+the+paint+during+WKUs+96-59+victory+over+Kentucky+State+at+Diddle+Arena+on+Nov.+21%2C+2021.

Marshall C. Canupp

Lady Topper sophomore guard Hope Sivori makes a cut to the paint during WKU’s 96-59 victory over Kentucky State at Diddle Arena on Nov. 21, 2021.

Jake Moore, Sports Editor

The Lady Toppers (2-3) hosted the Kentucky State University Thorobreds (2-2) on Sunday afternoon at Diddle Arena, blowing out their opponents 96-59 and tying the program’s single-game record for steals.

The win was the first of a three-game homestand for the young program and the victory snapped a two-game skid.

“We didn’t want them to get down to the three point line, we didn’t want them to get into their offense, felt like we did a decent job of that overall,” head coach Greg Collins said. “We just had some breakdowns there late.”

WKU forced 38 total turnovers and recorded 26 swipes. It was the very definition of a team victory as five different Lady Toppers broke double-digits in scoring.

“I’m not surprised we had five kids in double figures,” Collins said. “Every day in practice we break shooting records and shooting goals that we have from the previous week or the previous year or the previous seasons. This is a very young team, so I know that we’ll be able to score the ball – the key is we’ve got to be able to guard. Guard and rebound.”

Senior guard Meral Abdelgawad led the way with 18 points. Freshmen Macey Blevins and Jaylin Foster each finished with 13. Freshman guard Alexis Mead and sophomore Hope Sivori both contributed 11 points each.

“It was just important for us to get back out there and get a win,” Mead said. “We needed to regroup, we went back to the court and we just worked on a lot of different things so for us to come out here and get a win, we’ve just got to keep going after this.”

“One of the disadvantages of traveling was, we’re not able to get in the gym,” Collins said. “We get about fifty-five minutes of shootaround or practice time and that’s it. That’s not good for a young team, we need to have more time.”

Abdelgawad paced the defense with seven steals and eight rebounds. Mead, Sivori and sophomore guard Teresa Faustino all contributed four takeaways each.

“I’m trying to help them [with] everything on the court,” Abdelgawad said. “I’m not just focusing on scoring, I’m trying to help them in rebounding, steals, everything. That’s what I’m doing.”

Blevins went 3-of-7 from deep, nine of her 13 points coming from the three. The team as a whole shot 32.3% from beyond the arc and went 48.6% from the field.

The Thorobreds took an 8-7 lead midway through the first quarter, the last time the Lady Toppers trailed. WKU ended the first frame with a 21-12 lead and never looked back, holding its opponent to just eight points in the second quarter and taking a 56-20 lead into the break.

Kentucky State didn’t score from 4:47 in the second quarter to 7:01 in the third. The Thorobreds performed better in the back half, outscoring the Lady Toppers 27-20 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. WKU held a staggering 80-34 lead early in the final frame, its largest advantage of the afternoon.

“It may appear that we’re just out there running around, but there’s a lot of structure, there’s a lot of rules that we have in place,” Collins said. “It doesn’t mean you can’t make a mistake, but you can’t make multiple mad, bad decisions on the same possession, and that’s what happened throughout the fourth quarter.”

The Lady Toppers will stay in Diddle Arena to face Indiana State on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at noon with a shot of returning to a .500 record.

Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.