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Lady Toppers battle past UAB, 62-52

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a hard-fought battle down the stretch, WKU outlasted UAB, 62-52, inside Bartow Arena and redshirt senior Micah Jones became the 38th member of the Lady Toppers’ 1,000-point club on Saturday afternoon.

Jones joined teammates Kendall Noble and Tashia Brown in the prestigious group on a three-pointer with 43 seconds to play in the third quarter that was set up on a pass from Noble. The redshirt senior from Greensburg, Ky., finished the day with a season-best 16 points and now has 1,009 points in her career on The Hill.

Noble led all scorers on Saturday afternoon with 26 points, 21 of which came in the second half. The C-USA Player of the Year candidate also dished out a game-high six assists and either scored or assisted on more than half of WKU’s 62 points.

Ivy Brown rounded out the Lady Topper (20-6, 12-2 C-USA) trio in double figures with 10 points while also pulling down 13 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the season.

For the Blazers (13-13, 6-9 C-USA), Rachael Childress led the way offensively with 14 points and was joined in double figures by Janeka Williams’ 11. Miyah Barnes had a team-high five assists for UAB, and Keonna Farmer and Deanna Kuzmanic each pulled down seven rebounds.

UAB came out of the gates on fire, scoring the game’s first seven points and 10 of the first 12 over the opening three minutes of the contest. Williams, who was honored in a pregame Senior Day ceremony by the Blazers, scored five straight points, including a three-pointer to cap the game-opening run.

Undeterred by the early eight-point deficit, WKU rallied back with 11 straight points and held UAB scoreless for nearly seven minutes to take its first lead of the afternoon. Noble and Ivy Brown combined to score all 11 points for the Lady Toppers, and Noble put WKU in front, 13-10, on a layup with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter.

Neither team could find the bottom of the basket over the first three and a half minutes of the second quarter. Despite the long scoring drought for both sides, the final six minutes of the quarter would feature two ties and four lead changes. Trailing by one point, 17-16, UAB pieced together six unanswered points to build a 22-17 edge, its largest lead of the frame.

Facing that five-point hole, WKU again answered with six straight points of its own, punctuated by Tashia Brown’s three-point play with 1:11 to play that sent the Lady Toppers into the halftime break with a narrow 23-22 lead.

WKU built its largest lead of the day to that point early in the third quarter, scoring seven of the first nine points out of the locker room. Noble netted four points during the run for WKU, and Jones added the exclamation point with a three-pointer to take a 32-24 lead at the 6:52 mark.

UAB’s Childress knocked down a trio of triples just 61 seconds apart to regain the lead for the Blazers, but again the Lady Toppers fought off UAB over the final five minutes of the quarter. Jones, set up by an assist from Noble, scored her 1,000th career point on a three-pointer with 43 seconds to play, and Noble made the lead six, 43-37, with a long jumper just before the buzzer.

In the fourth quarter, UAB whittled WKU’s lead to as few as two points after a 7-0 run midway through the period but could get no closer down the stretch. The Lady Toppers iced the game with four free throws in the final minute to emerge with the close 62-52 road win.

WKU will return home for its final two regular season home games next week as the Lady Toppers take on Charlotte on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Old Dominion on Saturday at 2 p.m. Thursday’s game is the annual Play4Kay Pink Game, while Ima Akpan, Kendall Noble and Micah Jones will be honored on Senior Day following the game against Old Dominion.

How to Follow the Lady Toppers: For complete information on WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program via social media @LadyTopperHoops on Twitter, @LadyTopperHoops on Instagram and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUWomensBasketball.

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