Categorized | WKU WBB

Lady Toppers Beat Middle Tennessee 63-60 to Move to First in Conference USA Race

Posted on 22 February 2015 by Allen

WKU

WKU erased a nine point deficit in the first half and got its final eight points from the senior duo of Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan to beat Middle Tennessee 63-60 on Saturday afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena.

WKU is now sole possession of first place in Conference USA and control their own destiny to claim the Conference USA regular season championship and the top seed in the upcoming Conference USA Championships in Birmingham by winning their final four games. WKU travels to Florida Atlantic and FIU next week before hosting Charlotte and Old Dominion in the final week of play. WKU is in its inaugural season in the league after winning 10 conference tournament and 10 conference regular season titles as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.

Senior Chastity Gooch had a game high 17 points and added six rebounds while senior Alexis Govan had 12 points and 12 rebounds. It was a true team effort for the Lady Toppers with all five starters at least seven points, including Jalynn McClain with eight points in her first start of the season. Micah Jones added eight points and Kendall Noble had seven. Freshman Ivy Brown added four points and seven rebounds off the bench.

The Lady Toppers were strong on the inside, owning a 42-38 advantage on the boards and pulling down 21 offensive rebounds – resulting in 17 seconds chance points. Gooch’s efforts on Middle Tennessee post Cheyenne Parker forced Blue Raider head coach Rick Insell to limit her time on the floor in the final four minutes. With WKU leading 59-57, Parker exited the game with 4:30 left and only two fouls and didn’t return until the final 22 seconds of the game as Gooch’s versatility on the perimeter gave the post problems throughout the game.

WKU posted its first win over the Blue Raiders since March 11, 2008 when WKU beat Middle Tennessee 65-49 in the championship game of the Sun Belt Conference Championships, ending a 12-game winning streak for the Blue Raiders that allowed them to overtake WKU’s 23-20 lead in the modern series (dating to 1976-77).

Middle Tennessee jumped ahead by nine points in the first half – leading 17-8 early and maintaining an eight-point edge at 33-25 with 5:45 left in the opening half before the Lady Toppers took momentum with an 11-0 run that extended to 18-2 to end the half. Noble opened the run with a three point play, followed by a basket from Ivy Brown. Govan added a free throw before Jones hit a basket and Gooch nailed a three. Following a Blue Raider basket with 2:23 left, Jones, Govan and Tashia Brown contributed to a 7-0 run that put WKU up 43-35 at the break.

The Lady Toppers led at halftime thanks to smart play on the offensive end with just two turnovers and turning up its trademark defense. The Lady Toppers got 18 points off turnovers in the first half thanks to 12 Blue Raider miscues.

The WKU led got to 10 points early in the second half before the Blue Raiders gradually fought back. Middle Tennessee eventually tied the game at 53-53 with 8:52 left on a three-point play by Shanice Cason.

The Blue Raiders went ahead 55-53 when Ivy Brown got a basket and again at 57-55 before Govan tied it with 5:58 left. Gooch then scored to give WKU a 59-57 lead with 5:09 left before Middle Tennessee went up 60-59 with 2:09 left.

Govan’s putback with 1:33 left was the eventual difference in the game before Gooch added a pair of free throws with 22.1 left to secure the win. WKU played superb defense in the final 22 seconds to secure the win.

WKU is now 23-4 on the season and have posted 23 wins or more over the first 27 games of the season for the fifth time in program history and for the first time since 1994-95.

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Scores

Temple 37 Vanderbilt 7 F
Alabama 33 West Virginia 23 F
Arkansas 21 Auburn 45 F
LSU 28 Wisconsin 24

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