Abdelgawad and Foster lead Lady Toppers to a 16-point comeback win


Tucker Covey

WKU forward Jaylin Foster blocks a shot during the FAU game on Jan. 20.

Joseph Thompson, Women's Basketball Reporter

The WKU Lady Toppers (17-9, 10-5 C-USA) rallied in the fourth quarter, ending their two-game losing streak and defeating the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (20-6, 10-4  C-USA) in overtime 97-93 Saturday afternoon in Diddle Arena. 

The Lady Toppers bounced back from their two consecutive blowout losses with a superb performance on offense. They shot 33-of-61 (54.1%) from the field and 14-of-28 (50%) from behind the three-point line. WKU was back to their usual up-tempo pace, scoring 14 points in transition and 24 points off MTSU turnovers. The Lady Toppers did a great job sharing the ball in Saturday’s win with 18 assists.

“Credit to these young ladies,” WKU head coach Greg Collins said. “We talked about how one of our keys is making sure you get the best shot for us and you do what you do great. Don’t get outside of what you are great at. That’s all the team needs to focus on. What you do best, and if that’s not your thing, you get [the ball] to the next person and let them do what they do.”


The Lady Topper defense had trouble guarding the three-point line the entire game, but they were solid everywhere else defensively. WKU held MTSU to 37-of-74 (45.9%) from the field. The Blue Raiders did shoot 16-of-30 (53.3%) from the three-point line, but they were held to 4-of-10 (40%) in the second half. The Lady Toppers won the rebound battle 36-33 and were back to their old selves, forcing 13 turnovers and stealing the ball away from MTSU six times.

“We were doing a really bad job on defense instead of doing what we were trying to do,” Collins said. “We came out in the second half, and we got back to our game plan and did what we practiced the last few days and then we did a better job to make those threes more difficult.”

The standout players of the game were senior forward Meral Abdelgawad and freshman forward Jaylin Foster. 

“We were not going to quit so we kept fighting until the end of the game,” Abdelgawad said. “I’m so proud of them, they fought all the way to the end. It’s a big win for us.”

Abdelgawad scored 27 points and grabbed 16 rebounds while Foster posted her career-high with 27 points and set her career-high in three’s made with four.

“I knew I was going to get going,” Foster said. “She wouldn’t come up, so I just kept shooting. Meral’s and-1 in the fourth quarter to tie the game up really got us going. She brings so much energy and fire to the team. So, when we see that, we get going. We made shots today because of it.”

The Lady Toppers had a tough time containing senior guard Dor Saar in the first quarter. MTSU also had trouble guarding Foster in the first quarter as she scored 11 points in the period. The Lady Toppers played well in the first quarter, but the Blue Raiders three-point shooting was a problem for them. MTSU made five of their seven threes in the quarter.

The Lady Toppers still had trouble running the Blue Raiders off the three-point line in the second quarter, but they scored more efficiently. Redshirt freshman forward Gabby McBride ignited the crowd and shifted momentum in favor of WKU after diving into the scoreboard and saving the ball. Her effort led to a three pointer by sophomore Hope Sivori. 

WKU played well in the first half, but MTSU was red hot from the three-point line and Collin’s coaching staff seemed to have no answer to stop them. MTSU shot 10-of-15 (66.7%) from deep and the Blue Raiders turned the hot start into a 50-36 halftime lead.

The Lady Toppers seemed to come out of halftime with an answer to the Blue Raiders three-point shooting, only allowing one MTSU three-pointer in the third quarter. Abdelgawad came alive in the second half with nine points in the third. The Lady Toppers got the lead within seven points but trailed 61-50 at the end of the  third quarter.

WKU showed tremendous heart in the fourth quarter, opening the quarter with four straight three-point bombs. The Lady Toppers were not going to give the Blue Raiders the game. Jaylin Foster was the main one standing in MTSU’s way. She scored 11 points in the quarter, but Abdelgawad was the story of the quarter. 

As the sole senior on WKU, Abdelgawad took control of the game. She scored 10 straight points in the fourth. Foster missed the potential game-winning three. WKU and MTSU headed into overtime.

The Lady Toppers controlled the overtime with their stellar defense. Abdelgawad opened the overtime with a steal and score. The Lady Toppers forced four Blue Raider turnovers in the extra period, keeping MTSU out of reach. WKU defeated MTSU 97-93.

The Lady Toppers’ next game is against Marshall on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Diddle Arena.

Women’s Basketball Reporter Joseph Thompson can be reached at [email protected].