Lady Toppers fall in regular season finale

WKU guard Ally Collett (3) dribbles the ball across the court while FAU guard Are Beck (4) follows closely behind at the game at Diddle Arena on Feb. 5, 2021. WKU won 71-64.

Drew Toennies

The Lady Toppers (7-15), (6-10, C-USA) returned to Chartway Arena to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs (10-10), (7-9, C-USA) for game two in the series after a disappointing 55-53 loss in Thursday’s matchup. 

WKU fell 57-55 to the Monarchs to conclude the regular season. The Lady Toppers will see the Monarchs again on March 9 at 4 p.m. and the winner will move on to play the No. 3 seed in the postseason on March 10. 

“I thought we would have shot the ball better,” head coach Greg Collins said. “It’s hard to make a lot of bad shots, so that’s kind of where we are offensively.”

Collins said prior to the next game his team needs to box out if they want to win in the preliminary round in four days. 

WKU senior Raneem Elgedawy led WKU in scoring with 14 points and 16 rebounds. WKU junior Meral Abdelgawad was also one of the best offensive players with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“After I sit her on the bench for a little bit,” she’s a lot more settled,” Collins said about Elgedawy’s low scoring in this series. “She’s trying to help, she’s trying to score, but she’s got to calm down and get good shots up there.”

The Lady Toppers were 35% from the field, which was slightly better than the Monarchs who were 34% from the field. The Monarchs turned the ball over 15 times, whereas the Lady Toppers had 13 turnovers. The Monarchs out rebounded the Lady Toppers 48-43. 

The Monarchs won the opening tip off and ODU graduate Maggie Robinson would strike first with a jumper. WKU senior Fatou Pouye would score the Lady Toppers first points with a layup.

With over five minutes left in the first frame, the Monarchs would go on a 6-0 run over the last several minutes to take a four point lead over WKU. The Lady Toppers would come back and tie the game with a layup by WKU junior Meral Abdelgawad. The score was 8-8 at the first media break.

With over two minutes left to play, the Monarchs had retaken the lead with a 9-0 run as the Lady Toppers were on a scoring drought that lasted for three minutes.

With 50 seconds left, WKU senior Raneem Elgedawy found the basket, but the Lady Toppers committed four turnovers over the last five minutes of play and found themselves trailing their opponents 17-10 at the end of the first quarter.

WKU freshman Ally Collett would start off the second quarter with a deep three pointer to get WKU’s offense back on track. The Lady Toppers held a 24-22 lead by the media break with four minutes left in the first half.

With three minutes left, Collett made a layup to give WKU a four point lead on 3-of-3 shooting. The Lady Toppers would keep the Monarchs scoreless from the field in the last two minutes of the quarter to take a 29-24 lead going into halftime. 

By halftime, the Lady Toppers offense was being led by Collett who had seven points and one rebound. The Lady Toppers were 43% from the field while the Monarchs were 29% from the field. Both teams had 10 turnovers each. The Monarchs were out rebounding the Lady Toppers 22-20.

The Monarchs would cut the WKU lead down to three in the first few moments of the third frame with a layup by junior Amari Young. ODU junior Aziah Hudson would drill a three pointer to tie the game and would draw the foul to go to the line. Hudson would make both free throws to give the Monarchs a 31-29 lead.

With four minutes left to play in the third frame, the Monarchs were 4-of-5 from the field and had a two point lead over WKU.

The Monarchs had a 42-37 lead at the third media break. The Monarchs went on a 6-0 run with less than two minutes left to play to extend their lead. The Lady Toppers trailed the Monarchs 47-39 by the end of the third quarter.

Abdelgawad would score a layup and draw the foul to go to the line to start off the fourth quarter. Abdelgawad would score again with less than eight minutes left to make it a five point game.

With less than five left to play, Abdelgawad would score a jumper to keep the Lady Toppers in the game. With 3:29 left on the clock, the Lady Toppers were on a 6-0 run over the last 1:34 of the game and were 3-0f-3 from the field. The Monarchs had been held scoreless for the last two minutes.

Old Dominion would call a timeout at 2:33 after the Lady Toppers took the lead with an 8-0 run. With 1:13 left, the Monarchs took the one point lead with a layup by Young. Elgedawy would return fire with 37 seconds left to take the lead. WKU called a timeout with 25 seconds left as they trailed by only one.

The Lady Toppers had the ball stolen and were forced to foul with six seconds left. They were unable to finish the job as they fell to the Monarchs 57-55 to conclude the series and finish out the regular season.

“Play harder,” Collins said. “Bottom line, we didn’t make shots, but they played harder, we didn’t box out.”

With the conclusion of the series, the Lady Toppers will finish off their season in the 2021 Air Force Reserve C-USA Tournament, which is scheduled to tip off on March 9.

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