Lady Toppers fall to Old Dominion, WKU set to play in preliminary round of postseason

Lady Topper head coach Greg Collins gives direction from the sidelines of WKU’s game against Flor- ida Atlantic on Thursday, Jan. 30. WKU won 68-59 in Diddle Arena.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (7-14), (6-9, C-USA) traveled to Norfolk, Virginia, to meet with the Old Dominion Monarchs (9-10), (6-9, C-USA) at Chartway Arena for the first game in the final Conference USA series of the season.

With the series finale beginning with a 55-53 loss, the Lady Toppers will now have to win five games in five days to claim the C-USA Championship. 

“Overall, we did a decent job of keeping them from getting to the paint,” head coach Greg Collins said. “I felt like overall we played well enough to win, but there’s that one area that we shoot ourselves in the foot.”

The Lady Toppers were 35% from the field while their opponents were 37%. The Lady Toppers committed 14 turnovers over the course of the game, whereas Old Dominion turned the ball over 17 times. The Monarchs outrebounded the Lady Toppers 46-42.

WKU senior Raneem Elgedawy was the Lady Toppers’ best scorer with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

WKU freshman Ally Collett was another notable performer in tonight’s game as she dropped nine points and made several important shots.

“I felt like she played a whole lot more fearless tonight,” Collins said. 

Old Dominion won the opening tip off, and the ball landed in the hands of graduate Maggie Robinson who would make the first two points of the game. Elgedawy went to the free throw line soon after to go 1-of-2 from the line to give WKU its first point.

Both ODU and WKU would have issues early in the first quarter as the Lady Toppers turned the ball over three times and went on a scoring drought that lasted for four minutes. The Monarchs also had trouble scoring, and the game stayed 4-1 until the 5:45 mark in the first frame.

With five minutes left in the first frame, the Monarchs went on a 7-0 run and the Lady Toppers had not found the basket for almost five minutes. However, the Lady Toppers found their rhythm after the first media break and went 5-of-7 from the field in the final minutes to trail the Monarchs 15-13 at the end of the quarter.

Three minutes into the second frame, Old Dominion called a timeout as the Lady Toppers cut the lead down to one point. At 6:38, WKU took their first lead of the night with a good layup by senior Fatou Pouye.

Both teams struggled in the final minutes before halftime. The Lady Toppers committed another four turnovers over the last five minutes, and neither team could avoid a three-minute scoring drought. The Lady Toppers lead the Monarchs at halftime with a 28-25.

Going into the locker room, WKU had nine turnovers and the Monarchs had seven. The Lady Toppers were 41% from the field while the Monarchs shot 32%. The Lady Toppers were out rebounding the Monarchs 23-22.

WKU’s best first half performer was Elgedawy with nine points and eight rebounds.

Halfway into the third frame, the Lady Toppers took control of the game with a 6-0 run and 4-of-4 shooting from the field. WKU led 38-30 at the media break. A slight comeback from the Monarchs put them back in the game but by the end of the third quarter the Monarchs still trailed WKU 43-38.

With 7:17 left in regulation, the Lady Toppers turned the ball over three times over the last 2:24 and had been held scoreless for the last two minutes. The Lady Toppers led the Monarchs 45-42 by the first media break in the final quarter, but the Monarchs would go on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 45-44.

The Monarchs hit a three pointer at 3:53 to take their first lead since the first quarter. With 1:45 left, Collett hit a three pointer to make it a two-point game. With less than a minute left, Old Dominion called a timeout as they were winning by one point. 

WKU called a timeout with 23 seconds remaining in regulation as they trailed by two points. The Lady Toppers would not make the comeback and fell to the Old Dominion Monarchs 55-53.

“We gotta move the ball,” Collins said. “We gotta be a little more efficient shooting team than 35%.”

WKU cemented themselves to play in the preliminary round of the C-USA Women’s Championship Bracket. The Lady Toppers will play on March 9 to open the postseason. 

The Lady Toppers will return tomorrow evening to take on the Monarchs for their final conference game of the season. The opening tip off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Women’s basketball beat reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.