BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – After claiming its second C-USA Tournament title in three seasons, WKU has received a No. 12 seed and will open NCAA Tournament play against fifth-seeded Ohio State inside Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. (CT).
The Lady Toppers defeated North Texas, Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss en route to becoming the first C-USA champion to win each of their tournament games by double digits in Birmingham, Ala., last week. Sophomore Sidnee Bopp had a breakout performance, knocking down 12 three-pointers and notching a career-best 18 points against Louisiana Tech.
All-C-USA First Teamer Kendall Noble leads the Lady Toppers in scoring at 16.1 points per game, while Second Teamer Tashia Brown (13.4) and fellow First Teamer Ivy Brown (13.3) also average in double figures for the Lady Toppers.
Ohio State (26-6, 15-1 Big Ten) is led by Big Ten Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell, the seventh-leading scorer in the nation at 23 points per game. Stephanie Mavunga (11.8) and Shayla Cooper (10.5) also average double figures, but Mavunga has been sidelined since Feb. 4 due to injury.
With a win on Friday, WKU would advance to the Round of 32 on Sunday to face the winner of Friday’s Kentucky-Belmont matchup.
GAME #34 – RV/NR WKU VS. NO. 10/11 OHIO STATE – NCAA TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND
WKU (27-6, 16-2 C-USA) vs. Ohio State (26-6, 15-1 Big Ten)
March 17, 2017 | 1:00 p.m. (CT)
Lexington, Ky. | Memorial Coliseum (10,000)
WKU Game Notes
– WKU claimed its 12th conference tournament championship in program history and second since joining C-USA with last Saturday’s 67-56 victory over Southern Miss inside Legacy Arena. The Lady Toppers’ 16 victories in conference play matched the program record also set in 2007-08 and 2014-15.
– WKU is making its 19th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and has won at least one game in nine of its previous 18 trips to the Big Dance. The Lady Toppers reached the Final Four in 1985, 1986 and 1992, and also advanced to the national title game during the 1992 run through the tournament.
– The Lady Toppers have faced Ohio State twice in program history with both meetings coming during postseason play. The Buckeyes defeated WKU, 86-73, in the NCAA Tournament on March 25, 1993, and earned a second victory in the series in the WNIT on March 20, 2001, with a 70-61 win.
– WKU owns two victories as a double-digit seed in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Rutgers on March 16, 1994, as a 12 seed and Marquette on March 18, 2000, as a 10 seed.
– WKU enters the NCAA Tournament on a 12-game winning streak and is one of only eight programs in the nation to sport at least a 10-game winning streak in each of the last four seasons, joining perennial powerhouse programs such as Connecticut, Baylor and Notre Dame.
– After hitting just 19 three-pointers in the regular season, sophomore Sidnee Bopp was 12-of-23 (52.2 percent) from beyond the arc en route to All-C-USA Tournament honors. Bopp’s 12 triples were tied for the third-most by an individual player in C-USA Tournament history.
– This season, WKU has attempted more free throws than its opponent in 26 of 33 contests and holds a 23-3 mark in those games. That continues a larger trend under Michelle Clark-Heard, as the Lady Toppers are 98-11 (.899) when attempting more free throws since her arrival in 2012-13.
– WKU’s 233 three-pointers this season have already broken the single-season program record from beyond the arc. WKU has seven or more three-pointers in 20 games this season after hitting that mark just 10 times during the 2015-16 campaign.
– Kendall Noble became the all-time leader in minutes played in Lady Topper history in the win at Middle Tennessee on Feb 16. The redshirt senior currently sits at 4,434 minutes played and is one of just four players in school history to play 4,000 or more minutes alongside teammate Micah Jones, who hit the mark in the regular season finale at Rice.
– With a victory over Old Dominion on Feb. 25, WKU became one of just seven schools in the nation to finish with zero or one home losses in each of the last three seasons. The Lady Toppers join UConn, Baylor, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Green Bay and South Dakota in that category.
– WKU was ranked No. 7 in ESPNW’s final mid-major power rankings of the regular season.
– Under Michelle Clark-Heard, WKU has trailed by double digits in 41 games and has rallied to win 18 times (43.9 percent of the time) when facing a double-digit deficit. Seven of those victories have come in the last two seasons alone, including wins this season after trailing by 14 (Kent State) and 13 (UAB and Charlotte).
– As a team, WKU is currently fourth in the nation with just 10.9 turnovers per game, a number that also leads C-USA for fewest among the league’s teams.
– Redshirt senior Micah Jones became the 38th member of WKU’s 1,000-point club with a season-best 16 points at UAB on Feb. 18. Jones is the third active Lady Topper to join the club after teammates Kendall Noble and Tashia Brown and is also the fifth player to reach the mark under Michelle Clark-Heard. WKU is one of just 10 Division I programs with three or more active 1,000-point scorers.
– Jones ranks second among all Division I players with a 3.68 assist-to-turnover ratio this season. Jones has dished out 136 assists to just 37 turnovers and now ranks sixth on WKU’s career charts in the category with 441 assists.
– By appearing in Friday’s game, Micah Jones will match Dominique Duck’s program record of 137 games played. Jones already holds the school record with 131 games started, topping former Lady Topper great Crystal Kelly’s mark of 130.
– With Micah Jones joining the 1,000-point club, WKU has a trio of 1,000-point scorers on the same team for just the second time in school history. Kendall Noble, Tashia Brown and Jones have matched the feat achieved by Lillie Mason, Kami Thomas and Clemette Haskins during the 1985-86 campaign.
– Ivy Brown has moved into the top 10 on WKU’s all-time career blocked shots list. Brown now has 96 swats for her career and sits in ninth place all-time for the Lady Toppers.
– WKU owns C-USA’s top-scoring offense through 33 games, averaging 75.5 points per outing. The Lady Toppers have scored 80 or more points 10 times this season and have reached 90 points three times; WKU also leads all teams in the state of Kentucky in points per game.
– Now fifth in school history with 193 three-pointers, Micah Jones needs just one more to pass Kristina Covington (1998-2003) for fourth place on the charts.
– WKU broke the NCAA women’s basketball record for fewest points allowed in a half by holding Lipscomb to just two first-half points on Dec. 15. The mark was also the fewest in men’s basketball since the introduction of the shot clock. In addition, WKU had six players reach double figures for the first time since Jan. 21, 2009, in the victory, a stretch of nearly eight years.
Listen: 102.7 FM, 1450AM in Bowling Green (Barry Williams, pxp; Paul Sanderford, analysis)
Watch: ESPN2 (Nell Fortner and Beth Mowins on the call)
Live Stats: WKUSports.com
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