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Mercer College Bears Junior Forward ’s Sierra Vatow (center) and Jaron Dougherty (right) battle Western Kentucky University Junior Guard Meral Abdelgawad for possession of the ball during their game on Dec. 18, 2020 in Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, KY where Mercer won 71-54.

The Lady Toppers (1-4) played the Mercer Lady Bears (5-3) in their third home game of the season. WKU fell 71-54 to the Lady Bears committing 25 turnovers on the night. 

Senior Fatou Pouye led the Lady Toppers with 13 points and six rebounds. 

“I don’t feel like it was a 17 point difference,” head coach Greg Collins said. “I felt like overall they kept fighting. Every time we were in the huddle they knew to keep fighting.” 

Tipoff went to the Lady Toppers as freshman Hope Sivori snagged the ball from a pass by senior Fatou Pouye. WKU’s opening drive ended up resulting in a shot clock violation.

It wasn’t until the third minute that the first points were dropped. Mercer drove to the basket to make it a two-point game.

However, on the next WKU possession, Pouye made a shot and drew the foul to tie the game.

Freshman Ally Collett drew a foul on the following play to go to the free-throw line. Collett made both her free throws to put WKU up by three.

Mercer and WKU went back and forth as both teams were constantly tied in the first quarter.

Near the end of the quarter, Mercer drove to the net to put the Lady Bears up by two. However, Sivori returned fire by scoring two before the final buzzer.

By the end of the first quarter, Sivori led the team in scoring with six points.

“Overall we are getting better,” Collins said. “It doesn’t show, but we’re getting better. We’ve got to get to where we can find some consistent scoring.” 

The beginning of the second quarter was starting to be more favorable to Mercer as they pulled ahead of WKU in the first minutes. WKU trailed by six points by the end of the first three minutes.

Collins called a timeout in the second quarter at the 6:34 mark as Mercer drained a three-pointer to make it an eight-point game.

After the timeout, Pouye did not hesitate to put two more points on the board to drop Mercer’s lead down to six. Pouye would score again in the quarter as she concluded the second quarter with nine points.

WKU’s efforts in the second quarter resulted in a comeback as WKU trailed by only one point going into halftime.

Both Sivori and Pouye were the first half playmakers for WKU as they were both tied for score leader. Both players had nine points to conclude the first half of play.

“Very slowly we are starting to pick up our rhythm,” Sivori said. “But I feel like by the end of the year I think we’ll be in a pretty good rhythm.”

Mercer opened up the third quarter with a jumper to put Mercer up by three, but Pouye scored on the next two WKU possessions to keep the Lady Toppers in the game.

However, Mercer soon pulled ahead and took a seven point lead.

This was when Collins called a timeout to make adjustments.

Shortly after the three minute mark, Collett drained a three-pointer to make it a six point game.

The final minute of the third quarter saw a tough Mercer team with a 12 point lead over the Lady Toppers.

The Lady Toppers managed to trim that Mercer lead down to 10 points before the quarter ending buzzer.

Junior Meral Abdelgawad started off the fourth quarter strong with driving to the rim to draw the foul and make the shot to make it a seven-point game.

With 6:49 left on the clock, Collins sent Pouye back in the game as WKU was unable to score and unable to stop the Lady Bears from extending their lead.

The Lady Bears had as much as a 14 point lead, but WKU hit a three-pointer with under five minutes to start scoring again.

However, as hard as WKU tried to overcome the point deficit, the Lady Bears were too much for them.

The Lady Bears finished the game with 71 points as WKU totaled 54.

Pouye and Hope Sivori were the playmakers for WKU as Pouye scored 13 and Hope Sivori scored 11 points. Collett followed Sivori with six points.

WKU was scheduled to face off against Samford on Monday, Dec. 1, but due to COVID-19 regulations within Samford’s athletic program, that game has been postponed. 

Collins said he heard the game was postponed when the shoot around began earlier today.

WKU added a game at Tennessee Tech (2-1) for Dec. 20. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m. 

“Tennessee Tech was willing to play, we worked it out where we can get in their facility and play on Sunday afternoon,” Collins said. “So, we’re going to get in there tomorrow and watch film, go down to Cookeville and we’re going to tip it up again.”

Women’s basketball beat reporter Drew Toennies at drew.toennies900@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.

Drew Toennies is a junior from Nashville, TN. He is a journalism major with a minor in political science.