Meredith, Mead drop 16 points apiece to fend off Tennessee State


Marshall Canupp

The Lady Toppers took on the KSU Thorobrettes in a regular season matchup on Nov. 21, 2021 at Diddle Arena.

Joseph Thompson, Women's basketball reporter

The Lady Toppers completed their home stand with a perfect 3-0 record to move to 4-3 on the season after defeating the Tennessee State University Lady Tigers (3-3) 77-65 Sunday afternoon at Diddle Arena.  

The difference in the game was scoring from the bench. The Lady Toppers’ bench outscored TSU 25-10. WKU was defensively sound the entire game, allowing only eight TSU free throws. WKU held the Lady Tigers to 47% shooting from the field and 15% from the three-point line, also forcing 24 turnovers.

The Lady Toppers won the battle of the boards 36-34 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds which, according to head coach Greg Collins, was the key to WKU’s victory.

“The biggest thing is that even if the shots weren’t falling, we were pursuing second chances,” Collins said. “We have to go after those second chances, whether we got them or not, making sure we were there and then still trying to get out in transition.”

Nine Lady Toppers scored Sunday afternoon and the team shot 43% from the field (26-60) and 33% from deep (8-24). WKU committed 20 turnovers and outscored TSU in transition 19-15. Collins believes that offense will improve and the Lady Toppers will be very difficult to guard as the season progresses.

“The three’s right now, that’s going to come and go,” Collins said. “I know we’re going to get to a spot where we’re gonna be scary from that perimeter. Now we just have to get a bit more production in the interior, and once we get that [we] will be a much more complete team.”

Senior Meral Abelgwad was both the leading scorer and rebounder with 18 points and eight boards. Freshman guards Mya Meredith and Alexis Mead both chipped in with 16 points apiece. The Lady Toppers did not shoot the ball well, but Mead shared that defensive focus and ball movement is what allowed them to maintain their lead.

“We had to get stops on the defensive end and that was going to give us energy on the offensive end, so that’s what allowed us to have so many turnovers and still maintain the lead,” Mead said.

Meredith added that team chemistry is what motivated the Lady Toppers to pull out the win and overcome a late fourth quarter run by TSU. 

“We stayed together as a team even though the game got heated,” Meredith said. “We all stayed together as a team and kept picking up the pace.” 

Abdelgawad scored nine of the first 11 points for the Lady Toppers, giving her side momentum in the first quarter.

The Lady Toppers then began to struggle in the second quarter. They shot 6-16 from the field (37%) and allowed TSU to hang around in the first half. The score was 31-25 in WKU’s favor at the break.

The Lady Toppers began to pull away in the third quarter. Mead came alive in the second half, scoring a majority of her 16 points in the third and fourth quarters. Mead and freshman guard Jenna Walker hit back-to-back threes late in the third quarter to give the Lady Toppers a double-digit lead entering the final frame.

TSU opened the fourth on a 8-0 run and hit its only triples of the game to cut the deficit to as little as five points. Freshman forward Jaylin Foster played a pivotal role in the fourth quarter by providing numerous steals and deflections. The Lady Toppers weathered the storm with key defensive stops and Mead hit a dagger from beyond the arc with about a minute remaining to put WKU up by eight and seal the win.

The Lady Toppers will now go on the road, facing Bellarmine University on Thursday, Dec. 2 in Louisville. The Lady Toppers are 9-0 all time against Bellarmine. 

Women’s basketball reporter Joseph Thompson can be reached at [email protected].