‘Things just weren’t going our way’: Lady Toppers drop season opener against Vanderbilt


Tucker Covey

WKU head coach Greg Collins yells to the team from the sidelines during the season opener with Vanderbilt on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 in E.A. Diddle Arena. WKU lost 82-71.

Camden Bush, Basketball reporter

The Lady Toppers (0-1) dropped their season opener 82-71 to the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-0) Monday night at Diddle Arena. 

The Commodores got out to an early lead over WKU and despite a few efforts by WKU, the Lady Toppers never managed to come all the way back.

WKU was able to keep it close with Vanderbilt despite a very poor shooting performance. The Lady Toppers shot only 38.1 percent from the field, while only knocking down five of 22 three point attempts. The team also left some crucial points at the free throw line, where they shot 18-30.

Turnovers also hurt WKU as the team turned the ball over 21 times in the game. The team got off to a slow start as they turned the ball over 11 times in the first quarter, resulting in a ten point deficit after one quarter.

“Things weren’t going our way, we were fouling too much,” Head coach Greg Collins said. “Our three point shooters weren’t making threes, and nobody was making free throws.So nothing went our way except the hustle, effort, passion, and they kept playing hard. And that’s really all you can ask.”

Sophomore forward Jaylin Foster was the bright spot of the night for the Hilltoppers offense. Foster tallied 23 points and 10 rebounds.

WKU’s defense also struggled a bit as the team had trouble with fouls. The Commodores shot 31 free throws on the night. The defense only came up with one block on the night but managed to have ten steals.

Vanderbilt also managed to shoot at a much higher clip than the Lady Topper’s as they shot 57.1 percent from the field and 71 percent from the free throw line. 

The rebounding battle ended up being pretty even in the game as WKU outrebounded Vanderbilt 34-33. 

Graduate student Ciaja Harbison gave the WKU defense all it could handle as she dropped 28 points on only eight shot attempts. Harbison went 7-8 from the field and 12-14 at the free throw line. 

“She can shoot, period.” Collins said. “She shot a high percentage from the field , but what she really did well was make free throws. We just kept putting our hands on her, she had 12 points at the free throw line, and you just don’t put good shooters at the free throw line.”

The Lady Toppers won the tip and things looked good early on as WKU led 4-2 after a slow first four minutes. Things quickly changed however as the Vanderbilt defense swarmed the Lady Toppers and ultimately forced 11 first quarter turnovers.

Vanderbilt took a 19-9 lead into the second quarter after a late 7-0 run in the first. 

The second quarter went a bit better for the Lady Toppers, but they were unable to cut into the lead as they turned it over seven more times. The Commodores ended the first half on a 6-0 run and took a 34-23 lead into the half. 

WKU came out of the gate in the second half with a 6-2 run. The Commodores quickly responded however with a 9-0 run of their own. The Lady Toppers took a thirteen point deficit into the fourth after being outscored by Vanderbilt 22-20 in the third. 

WKU made several runs in the fourth quarter, but could string together enough stops. The Lady Toppers were unable to capitalize on some crucial three’s and free throws down the stretch. The failed comeback attempt resulted in a 82-71 loss.

Up next, the Lady Toppers will travel to Columbia, Missouri  next Monday where they will square off with The University of Missouri at 7 p.m. CT.

“We are looking forward to going to Missouri and playing a really good SEC team.” Collins said. “We’re gonna keep getting better. I think this team played hard, just gotta play better.”