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WKU Wins 20th of Season, Erase 13-Point Second Half Deficit to Win 83-76 at Rice

Posted on 07 February 2015 by Allen

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WKU won its 20th game of the season and erased a 13-point second half deficit to win 83-76 on the road at the Tudor Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.

WKU (20-4, 9-2) reached 20 wins today, Feb. 7, the second fastest it has reached the 20-win mark in terms of calendar date in program history, surpassed only by the 1985-86 team that won its 20th game on Feb. 4 and eventually reached the Final Four. The second quickest team to reach the 20-win mark was previously the 1990-91 squad that reached the mark on Feb. 11. It is just the fourth time WKU has reached the mark before Feb. 15.

The Lady Toppers had five players in double figures, led by the senior duo of Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch each posting 19 points. Govan became the second Lady Topper to flirt with a triple-double this week, adding eight rebounds and seven steals to her stat line. Redshirt sophomore Kendall Noble added 11 points while senior Ileana Johnson and freshman Tashia Brown added 13 points each. Johnson’s 13 point effort tied her career high.

Rice jumped ahead by six in the opening minutes thanks to a 5-of-7 start from the field and eventually built that lead to 12 points at 33-21 thanks to a 9-0 run over a two-minute span in the second half of the opening stanza.

WKU responded with six straight points, including a pair of free throws by Johnson off a steal and a pair of baskets from Govan following a drawn charge by Gooch and a tied up ball near midcourt by Gooch. Rice then scored out of the media timeout before WKU scored the final 13 of the half to post a 19-2 run and take a 40-35 advantage into the locker room.

Johnson scored six of her 10 first half points during the 19-2 run while Gooch had 10 points before the break.

The Owls responded quickly in the second half, taking a 43-42 lead in less than four minutes. Rice built the lead up to 13, thanks in part to an early 10-0 and eventually 15-2 run.

After falling behind 13 at 59-46 with 11:05 left and again at 63-50 with 9:35 left, the Lady Toppers scored 11 straight. Govan hit a pair of free throws before a three-point play with 9:03 left. Junior guard Micah Jones added a free throw and a three-point basket before Noble added a basket to cap the run and pull within 63-61 with 7:25 left.

WKU tied the game at 71-71 with 3:03 left and went ahead 73-71 with 2:19 left on a Gooch basket. The Lady Toppers built a seven-point lead later before hitting 6-of-6 free throws in the final 53.5 to win the game.

One of the most notable advantages for the Lady Toppers on the day was on the boards as WKU held Rice to just five offensive rebounds after the Owls entered the game as the best offensive rebounding team in the league. WKU had a 39-38 advantage on the boards and allowing just eight second chance points on the day.

With its 20th win of the season, WKU has now won at least 20 games in three straight seasons on the heels of a 9-21 campaign prior to Michelle Clark-Heard’s arrival on the Hill as head coach. It is the 28th 20-win season in program history and WKU has won 20 or more games in 28 of the last 39 seasons. WKU is 20-4 or better through 24 games for the fifth time in program history and for the first time since 1994-95 when opening the year 21-3.

WKU is also 9-2 to begin league play, its best mark through 11 games since 2007-08 when WKU was 11-0 to begin league play. It is the 13th time since the start of the 1991-92 season that WKU has won at least nine of its first 11 conference games.

The win extended WKU’s success on the road. The Lady Toppers claimed their 10th road win of the season. WKU’s 10 road victories is now tied for the seventh most road wins in a single season in Conference USA history. The league mark is 15. The Lady Toppers have two road games remaining in the regular season, a Feb. 26 contest at Florida Atlantic and Feb. 28 game at FIU. A pair of wins on the Florida swing would tie WKU for the third best mark in league history at 12 wins. WKU has won at least 10 road games in two of the last three seasons. Prior to reaching the 10-win mark on the road in 2012-13, WKU’s most recent 10-win road campaign came in the 1990-91 season, the year after head coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s final year as a WKU player, a span of 21 seasons without reaching the mark. The school record for road wins is 12 in 1990-91 when WKU posted a 12-1 mark on the road. It is one of just two years in program history that WKU has won 11 road games or more, the other coming in 1975-76.

WKU returns to the floor next Saturday in E.A. Diddle Arena when it starts a three-game homestand.

The Lady Toppers will host Marshall on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015 on Play4Kay Day in E.A. Diddle Arena at 1:00 p.m. CT. Individuals are encouraged to wear pink in support of the Kay Yow Foundation and breast cancer awareness. Donation buckets will be available at the door and WKU will host a silent auction to support the cause. Fans can also donate online at http://www.play4kay.org/wkuladytoppers. It is also Daddy/Daughter Date Night in E.A. Diddle Arena where all father/daughter couples can purchase one adult ticket and receive a youth admission for free. The Party 1 Kids Zone will also be available one hour prior to tipoff on the third level concourse with inflatables for kids. Fans can also purchase two tickets to the game for only $15 and receive a coupon for a free small pizza from Mr. B’s.

The first 100 women in the arena will receive a free pink rose.

WKU hosts UAB on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. CT and then welcomes rival Middle Tennessee to E.A. Diddle Arena on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. CT for the only meeting between the teams this season.

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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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