Lady Toppers start 2-0 in C-USA after dominant win against La Tech


Marshall C. Canupp

WKU Lady Toppers’ sophomore forward Selma Kulo (40) and freshman guard Mya Meredith (5) embrace each other after a call during their exhibition game against the West Virginia State University Yellow Jackets.

Joseph Thompson, Women's basketball reporter

The Lady Toppers (9-4, 2-0 C-USA) entered the new year by defeating the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters (8-4, 1-1 C-USA) 64-50 in their second game of conference play Saturday afternoon at Diddle Arena. The Lady Toppers are now on a four-game winning streak and are tied with Marshall for first place in C-USA. 

LA Tech did not allow WKU to use its usual high-scoring offense Saturday, but Coach Collins’s team scored in bunches when it mattered most. The Lady Toppers were held to 64 points on 47% (25-53) shooting from the field. WKU shot 47% (11-28) from behind the three-point line. 

“How do you win a game when you have 29 turnovers? You better play defense, you better rebound and you better never stop believing in what you do,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “One thing I like most about this team is they continue to not just be resilient, they continue to show grit and guts. They keep believing in each other and themselves and they just keep on fighting.” 

Sophomore center Selma Kulo anchored the defense with four blocks and senior forward Meral Abdelgawad grabbed 14 of WKU’s 39 total rebounds. The Lady Toppers out-rebounded LA Tech 39-36. They forced 23 Lady Techster turnovers and scored 19 points from those while stealing the ball 11 times. WKU held La Tech to 30% (16-54) shooting from the field and a miserable 9% (1-11) from behind the arc.

Abdelgwad had another stellar all-around performance. She scored 16 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and dished out 4 assists. Freshman guard Mya Meredith and sophomore guard Hope Sivori also had solid games in the win. Meredith put up 14 points and a career-high eight rebounds while Sivori scored 13 points and constantly hit big shots to swing the momentum back in the Lady Toppers’ favor. 

The Lady Toppers were ranked 12th in the preseason Conference USA standings and have used that as motivation for the 2021-2022 season. 

“I think it’s a big confidence booster being 2-0, just because we are young, and we struggle with confidence a lot, personally and on the court together,” Sivori said. “As a young team, it means a lot, just because we like being the underdog.” 

Louisiana Tech started the game on an 8-2 scoring run but WKU was able to rally early. Collins’ unit held La Tech scoreless for nearly five minutes in the first quarter. They went on a 21-3 run that led into the second quarter. WKU led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Toppers led by 13 midway through the second quarter. The Lady Techsters then went on a 6-0 scoring run and kept WKU scoreless for about four minutes of play. Meredith was the game’s leading scorer in the first half and Kulo had her season-high six points before the break. 

The Lady Toppers won the first half rebound battle 18-17 and played stellar defense. They held the Lady Techsters to 33% (9-27) field goal shooting and forced 15 turnovers. WKU led at halftime 35-22.

Meredith and Abdelgawad drained three-pointers to open the second half. The Lady Toppers allowed the Bulldogs to get back in the game by putting them on the free-throw line four times in the quarter. La Tech shot 6-of-8 from the charity stripe. The Lady Techsters shot 18% (2-11) from the field in the third quarter.

The Lady Toppers got off to a slow start in the fourth quarter. La Tech opened the quarter on a 10-0 scoring run, getting all the way within a point. WKU responded with an 8-0 scoring run of their own with freshman guard Macey Blevins and Sivori hitting back-to-back threes to spark it and the Lady Toppers never looked back as their lead extended to double digits. 

“We are not the best at executing what we are doing right now, we’re still learning that, but we can [be] best at effort, energy, and enthusiasm and I think they show that on the court,” Collins said. 

The Lady Topper’s next game against Florida International on Jan. 8 will start a three-game road stand. The game is set to start at noon CT.

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