Abdelgawad scores over 1,000 career points as WKU wins its first C-USA game


WKU Athletics

WKU guard Meral Abdelgawad (40) makes a basket at the game in Diddle Arena on Feb. 5, 2021. WKU won 71-64.

Joseph Thompson, Women's basketball reporter

WKU (8-4, 1-0 C-USA) won its first game of conference play 98-89 against the Southern Mississippi (8-4, 0-1 C-USA) Lady Eagles Thursday night at Diddle Arena. Senior forward Meral Abdelgawad set a new career-high in points with 36 and reached the 1,000-point milestone for her career.

“I’m so happy we got this win in Diddle,” Abdelgawad said. “It was so good to play in front of our fans. It’s really special to play here.”

Freshman guard Mya Meredith also set a new career-high with 24 points in the win. The Lady Toppers led nearly the entire game by playing their up-tempo brand of basketball, which seemed to be a problem for the bigger Lady Eagles squad. They accumulated 20 fast-break points and scored 18 points off of Southern Miss’ 19 turnovers.

The Lady Toppers’ offense was the story of the night. They scored 98 points on 51% shooting from the field and 42.3% from behind the three-point line, while eight of the 11 WKU threes came from Abdelgawad and Meredith. The Lady Toppers were superb from the free-throw line shooting 81% from the charity stripe. WKU also shared the ball tremendously, totaling 22 assists as a unit. 

The Lady Eagles are the second-best rebounding team in Conference USA and only outrebounded the Lady Toppers by six in total boards. Defensively, it was not the best performance from head coach Greg Collins’ unit, but they made plays the entire night on the defensive end of the ball. 

The Lady Toppers blocked eight shots and stole the ball from Southern Miss eight times. Sophomore center Selma Kulo anchored the defense by blocking four shots.

Abdelgawad was the standout player of the game. She had 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists. She has scored at least 20 points in her last four games and has three 30-point games in that four-game span.

The Lady Toppers led at the end of the first quarter 25-24. They opened the game with six fast-break points in the first two minutes of action. Their speed seemed to be a problem for the Lady Eagles early. Meredith had her way with the defense from the opening tip, scoring nine of her 24 points in the first quarter.

The Lady Toppers only trailed in the game for 36 seconds in the second quarter when the score was 26-25 – they never looked back. WKU led at halftime 48-41.

Abdelgawad started the second half with three straight deep balls, extending the lead to double digits for the first time in the game. She had 26 of her 36 points in the second half, 13 of them coming in the 4th quarter.

“You have to always play your best game to beat them and they’ve always been difficult for us to play against, and I was really proud of how we controlled the tempo, and that was critical,” Collins said. “We knew if we played at their pace that we were at a disadvantage inside. They are so strong and so good on the boards.”

The Lady Toppers will play their second game of conference play on Jan. 1st at Diddle Arena against Louisiana Tech.

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