WEB_WKUvsMorganState_CKohley_264.jpg

Lady Toppers’ Arame Niang (1) swats the ball away from Morgan State’s Adre’onia Coleman (21) in the Hilltoppers’ 90-43 win against the Bears on Wednesday at Diddle Arena. Niang earned her first double-double as a Hilltopper in the win.

The WKU women’s basketball team suffered its first offseason roster departure Friday morning, as redshirt sophomore forward Arame Niang announced her intention to leave the Lady Topper basketball program and finish her college basketball career elsewhere.

“I’ve been blessed to live in Bowling Green and have an opportunity to play ball at WKU but it’s time for me to start a new journey and I’m beyond excited,” Niang wrote in a tweet posted to her Twitter account. “Thanks to everyone who supported me the past few years.”

Niang transferred to WKU from Kansai Gaidai University in Hirakata, Japan. After sitting out the 2017-18 season to satisfy NCAA requirements, Niang had three years of eligibility remaining — one of which was used while playing for first-year head coach Greg Collins last season.

Originally from Rufisque, Senegal, which is also the hometown of men’s basketball player Moustapha Diagne, Niang played meaningful minutes for the Lady Toppers during 2018-19.

Niang appeared in 33 of the team’s 35 contests last year, averaging 5.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in 15.3 minutes of action per game. Her shooting stroke developed as the year wore on, as Niang finished the season shooting 46.6% from the floor and 29.1% from beyond the arc.

The sharp-shooting post’s highlight performance came in the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament on March 15, when the fourth-seeded Lady Toppers nearly toppled the first-seeded Rice Owls — then ranked No. 24 — thanks to 15 points from Niang, who shot 3-of-6 from deep in the first half.

Niang is the first player to leave the program early under Collins, who was scheduled to return his entire roster from a year ago other than three departing seniors. He must now replace the 6-foot-3 inside presence, who figured to play a key role in the forward rotation next fall.

Sports editor Drake Kizer can be reached at 270-745-2653 and clinton.kizer287@topper.wku.edu. Follow Drake on Twitter at @drakekizer_.