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Lady Toppers beat La. Tech by 24 in C-USA semifinal

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Sophomore Sidnee Bopp had a career-high 18 points on six three-pointers and led all players in scoring as WKU defeated Louisiana Tech, 77-53, in the semifinals of the 2017 C-USA Championships at Legacy Arena on Friday afternoon to advance to Saturday’s championship game at 4:30 p.m. (CT).

The Lady Toppers (26-6) captured their 11th consecutive victory and will advance to face the winner of Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee in Friday’s second semifinals. WKU is set to appear in its second conference championship game since joining C-USA in 2014-15 after winning the tournament in its inaugural season.

Bopp was red hot for the Lady Toppers, scoring all 18 of her points on six three-pointers in the first half. Kendall Noble stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists, and Micah Jones joined the trio in double figures with 11 points and six assists.

As a team, WKU shot 47.3 percent (26-of-55) from the field on the day and held Louisiana Tech (18-13) to just 1-of-11 shooting (9.1 percent) from beyond the arc.

Kierra Anthony and Jasmine LeBlanc led the Lady Techsters with 10 points apiece. Alexus Malone pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, and Kierra Lang dished out a team-best pair of assists for Louisiana Tech.

Louisiana Tech opened the game on a 6-0 run over the first 90 seconds behind baskets from Anthony and Rochelle Vasquez and a pair of free throws from Malone. Despite the two-possession early lead, the Lady Techsters could not hold off five unanswered points from the Lady Toppers to close within one point, 6-5.

The Lady Techsters maintained their lead until the two-minute mark of the opening quarter, when Jaycee Coe struck from three-point range to give the Lady Toppers their first lead of the game, 17-15. Ashley Santos’ layup on the next possession leveled the game, but Bopp’s triple 10 seconds later gave WKU a 20-19 lead after the first 10 minutes.

Leading 23-21 early in the second quarter, WKU broke open the game with its first big run of the night, scoring six unanswered points to take a 29-21 lead. Tashia Brown knocked down back-to-back layups for the Lady Toppers, and Ivy Brown capped the run with a pair of free throws at the 5:10 mark to grab the eight-point advantage.

With its lead trimmed to six points with just over 90 seconds remaining, WKU scored the final five points going into the halftime break, sparked by a three-pointer from Jones, and led the Lady Techsters, 43-32, heading into the locker room.

After a layup from LeBlanc cut the lead to single digits, WKU pieced together a 10-0 run over the next four minutes to rebuild its double-digit lead. Kendall Noble, Ivy Brown and Tashia Brown combined to score all 10 points for the Lady Toppers, and Noble’s off-balance jumper with 4:49 remaining in the quarter left WKU with a 53-34 edge for its largest lead of the night to that point.

Louisiana Tech pulled within 13 points on a pair of free throws from LeBlanc with 1:32 on the clock, but could not get any closer over the final 90 seconds of the third quarter as WKU carried a 57-42 lead into the final 10 minutes of play.

Jones knocked down a triple for the Lady Toppers midway through the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 66-44, and WKU never led by fewer than 20 points down the stretch as the Lady Toppers advanced to Saturday’s championship game with the 77-53 victory.

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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