BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Lady Topper Basketball head coach Greg Collins collected his
first official victory at the helm of the WKU program as the Red and White held off
Southern Illinois’ late comeback to claim an 83-76 win on Spread the Red Education
Day. Three Lady Toppers scored in double figures, led by Dee Givens’ 23 for the
“Southern Illinois didn’t shoot quite as well as Central Michigan did, but some of
that credit has to go to our players, our kids doing a better job of rotating and
getting out there and challenging those shots,” Collins shared. “It’s one step at a
time, they’re learning; it’s a lot more fun to learn after winning than losing so
we’re glad we got it finished off.”
WKU is now 1-4 on the season with the victory while Southern Illinois drops to 2-2.
Collins is now 155-52 during his time on staff with the Lady Toppers with win 155
marking his first at the helm of the program.
“Even though you know you’re doing the right things, you know you’ve played some
good talent and really good teams and you know that this will pay off down the
road,” Collins added of his first win. “You don’t know, we could’ve lost this game
today but that doesn’t mean we are doing the wrong things. I still believe in what
we are doing, I still believe in our players, we’ve got good kids and it’s just a
matter of time before we get it gelled. There’s learning, there’s chemistry, there’s
experience, there’s a lot of things that we’ve got to acquire before we become a
solid team. It means a lot to me to be part of this rich tradition. It meant a lot
to me to be a part of it as an assistant and associate head coach with Coach Heard.
You think about the great coaches that have come through here, either as an
assistant or head coach, and just to be part of that means a lot.”
Givens 23 points matched her career high set earlier this season at Oklahoma and
doubled as a game high from E.A. Diddle Arena. Elgedawy tallied 18 points while
grabbing a team-best nine boards. Brewer also finished in double figures after going
scoreless in the opening half. The redshirt-junior finished with 10 points, five
rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes of action.
WKU went 10-of-14 from long range on the day, including a 6-for-7 performance from
Givens. Brewer, Terri Smith and Sidnee Bopp each hit from deep. Bopp hit both treys
“It really spreads the floor for us and makes it easier to get to the post,” Bopp
said of the team’s hot-shooting performance. “Dee can shoot the lights out, Alexis
can, I can, Terry has been shooting really well too. With all of us being able to
shoot, everybody’s going to flood towards us and it opens up drives in the post.
I’ve had some stuff that set me back but it felt great getting back into my rhythm.
Especially that last game, the first game, when I went out there it just felt
Lady Topper Basketball opened Tuesday morning’s contest on a mission, taking a 5-0
lead less than a minute into the game. Meral Abdelgawad connected on a pair of free
throws and Dee Givens followed with a basket from deep. From there, Givens hit
another trey to make it 8-2 which became an 11-6 advantage at the media break. Using
a 9-0 run, WKU pushed its lead to 22-9 before the Salukis worked their way back with
the Red and White leading 28-21 at the end of the frame.
WKU extended its lead into the second quarter with a 13-5 run for a 41-26 lead. Just
before the media timeout, Givens connected on another 3 pointer to begin an 8-0 run
in favor of the Lady Toppers over a 1:19 span.
Southern Illinois made its first 3-point shot of the day just before the half to
make the score 47-31 in favor of the hosts. By that point, WKU had already connected
for seven shots from deep. At the half, the Red and White owned a 52-33 advantage
thanks to the hot hand of Givens who had 18 points at the break. Raneem Elgedawy was
also in double figures with 14 after two quarters.
Out of the halftime break, Southern Illinois cut the Lady Topper lead to single
digits at 59-50 before Givens knocked down her sixth triple of the game to push the
WKU advantage back to double digits. Moments later, Alexis Brewer picked up five
points, scoring for the Lady Toppers on back-to-back possessions to her first points
of the game to make it 67-55 with 2:05 to go in the frame.
Ahead 71-57 with just over seven minutes to play, WKU’s lead would drop to just nine
at the first media timeout of the quarter. SIU completed the three-point play
following the break before both sides would come up empty on the next two
possessions. After a WKU defensive stop, Brewer sank a jumper in the lane to give
the Lady Toppers a 77-67 lead with four minutes to play.
As Southern Illinois pulled within five at 79-76, WKU called for a timeout to
maintain its possession and it paid off as the Salukis would not score for the final
1:45 of the game. Givens made a layup with 27.7 seconds on the clock before Elgedawy
closed the scoring with a pair of free throws for the final 83-76 margin of victory.
With another road trip ahead, Lady Topper Basketball will hit the road for the
Vancouver Showcase. The squad will play three games in three days at the neutral
site event with a 10:30 p.m. CT, tilt on the slate against #9/9 Oregon State to open
things on Thursday.
GIVENS ON OREGON STATE GAME:
“The approach is still the same: rebound, box out, score in transition and play
aggressive on defense. I think Louisville, Iowa, Central Michigan and Oklahoma
prepared us for the Oregon State game. We know we can put points on the board, we
just have to focus mainly on defense.”