BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the 74th time in school history, Lady Topper Basketball
will square off against archrival Middle Tennessee in what will be the regular
season finale for both sides on Thursday evening at 6 p.m. inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU will also honor its three seniors; Sidnee Bopp, Kayla Smith and Jae’Lisa Allen;
as part of its Senior Night festivities in a postgame ceremony.
WKU earned a 71-66 win that came down to the wire in its last time out at North
Texas last Saturday, rallying from a five-point deficit to open the fourth quarter.
Dee Givens spearheaded the result for WKU with a game-high 24 points, six rebounds
and a career-best eight steals.
The Lady Toppers will be looking to split the season series with the Blue Raiders
after dropping an 81-69 decision in Murfreesboro, Tenn., on Feb. 14. Middle
Tennessee leads the all-time rivalry series by a 42-31 margin, but WKU has won six
of the eight most recent meetings.
A’Queen Hayes (15.5) and Alex Johnson (15.2) lead Middle Tennessee in scoring and
are joined in double figures by Taylor Sutton (10.6). Hayes is also the team’s
leading rebounder at 7.5 per game and has dished out a season-best 86 assists across
28 games for the Blue Raiders, who have limited opponents to just 56.1 points per
With the regular season complete, WKU will find out its seeding for next week’s
C-USA Tournament following the conclusion of all conference games late Thursday
GAME #30 / C-USA GAME #16 – WKU VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
WKU (16-13, 10-5 C-USA) vs. Middle Tennessee (20-8, 11-4 C-USA)
March 7, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– Sidnee Bopp and Kayla Smith, the four-year seniors who will be honored postgame on
Thursday evening, have been a part of 94 victories, two C-USA Tournament title teams
and a C-USA regular season championship squad since arriving on The Hill in 2015-16.
– Whitney Creech broke out with a season-best 16 points at North Texas last Saturday
and continued her late-season surge. Over her last six games, Creech is averaging
8.3 points and has hit double digits three times after doing that just once in the
first 23 games of the year.
– In WKU’s last two games at Marshall and North Texas, the contests have combined
for 28 lead changes and 18 ties as the Lady Toppers have prevailed in thrilling
fashion in both. WKU also rallied from a halftime deficit in both games after
previously only doing so once this season.
– Since joining C-USA prior to the 2014-15 season, WKU has won six of its eight
matchups in the rivalry against Middle Tennessee and had won five straight prior to
its setback earlier this year. Prior to this recent run of success, the Lady Toppers
had dropped 12 straight games against the Blue Raiders over a five-year span, the
longest winning streak by either side in the longtime series.
– With Thursday marking the final night of the regular season in C-USA, WKU controls
its own destiny and would lock up the No. 4 seed in next week’s C-USA Tournament
with a win over the Blue Raiders. A loss by Southern Miss at Charlotte would also
assure WKU of a first-round bye, and wins by both Marshall and Old Dominion would
guarantee that WKU could finish no lower than No. 4.
– With her 23-point performance at Marshall on Feb. 23, Dee Givens became the 40th
member of Lady Topper Basketball’s 1,000-point club and now has 1,039 points for her
career. Givens became the seventh player to join the club since Greg Collins has
been on staff in 2012-13, joining Chastity Gooch, Alexis Govan, Kendall Noble, Micah
Jones, Tashia Brown and Ivy Brown.
– WKU’s 69-66 overtime win at Marshall on Feb. 23 was its first in extra time since
defeating Kent State, 79-73, in overtime on Nov. 26, 2016. The overtime win was also
WKU’s first in a true road game since its WNIT victory at Saint Louis on March 25,
2016, that ended on Sidnee Bopp’s left corner buzzer-beater.
– With its 12-point comeback victory at UTEP on Feb. 2, WKU recorded its 19th
double-digit comeback since 2012-13 when Greg Collins joined the staff. Of those 19
comebacks, 12 have come either on the road or in neutral-site games, and 12 have
also come against conference opponents. The comeback at UTEP was WKU’s first win
when trailing by double digits since overcoming a 13-point deficit against Charlotte
on Feb. 23, 2017.
– Among the 23 first-time Division I head coaches this season, Greg Collins is
currently third with his 16 victories, trailing only Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen and
Northern Colorado’s Jenny Huth. More impressively, no other team under a first-time
head coach is averaging more points per game than the Lady Toppers, who are scoring
at a 73.9 per game clip.
– WKU has enjoyed one of its best shooting seasons in recent memory and has hit the
50 percent mark from the floor in 12 games already this season. The Lady Toppers
shot 50 percent or better in six straight games from Dec. 29 through Jan. 19, its
longest such streak since at least the 1987-88 campaign. Since Greg Collins has been
on The Hill in 2012-13, WKU is 35-4 when shooting 50 percent or better.
– At UTEP on Feb. 2, Raneem Elgedawy (27) and Dee Givens (26) paired to score 53 of
WKU’s 64 points against the Miners. That marked the second time this season that the
duo has combined to score 50 or more points after the two previously scored 59
combined points at FIU on Jan. 17.
– Through 29 games, the single-season three-point makes record in school history is
potentially in sight for the Lady Toppers. WKU has knocked down 184 triples this
season and is chasing the record of 242 set in 2016-17. WKU’s 184 makes already rank
fifth in program history for a single season and would jump to fourth with five more
– WKU has captured 32 road victories in C-USA play since joining the conference in
2014-15 and has unquestionably been one of the toughest teams to face both at home
and away. WKU’s 32 road wins are more than all but one C-USA school (Middle
Tennessee) have won on their own home courts against other C-USA opponents over the
last five years.
– Over its first five seasons as a member of Conference USA, WKU owns a 69-16 mark
against the rest of the league since joining and posted a 12-4 record last season.
– This season, WKU’s defense has limited its opponents to fewer than 70 points on 15
occasions, coming away with a win in all but two of those games. Over the last three
seasons dating back to 2016-17, the Lady Toppers have posted a 56-5 record when
holding their opponents under 70 points, including a perfect 33-0 mark when limiting
them to fewer than 60 points.
– Dee Givens has 89 total steals, an average of 3.1 per game, this season, a number
that ranks 12th among all qualifying Division I players. Givens’ 89 steals is also
the top mark among all C-USA players. Givens had her second game of the season with
eight steals at North Texas last Saturday evening and is one of only seven Division
I players (and the only C-USA player) this season with multiple games of eight or
– Despite having her streak of 38 consecutive made free throws snapped against Ball
State, Dee Givens has enjoyed a strong season from the charity stripe. Givens’ .863
(132-of-153) percentage ranks third in single-season history for the Lady Toppers,
trailing only Natalie Powers (.874) and Laurie Townsend (.869).
– Under Greg Collins, WKU has featured a revamped, fast-paced offensive attack this
season and is averaging 73.9 points per game through 29 contests. Should WKU average
at least 75 points per game this season, the Lady Toppers will have hit that mark in
four of the five most recent seasons after previously not doing so since 2004-05.
– Dating back to a Jan. 7, 2017, victory at Old Dominion, WKU has forced at least 10
turnovers in 81 consecutive games. This season, the Lady Toppers have forced an
average of 17.7 turnovers per game by their opponents and have recorded 20 or more
turnovers forced on 10 different occasions, including five times during C-USA play.
– Through 29 games, Raneem Elgedawy and Meral Abdelgawad have combined to score 724
of WKU’s 2,144 points, just over a third of the team’s total. In addition to their
scoring, the duo has combined for 287 rebounds, also just under a third of the
team’s total of 909.
– Despite its rally falling just short at Oklahoma on Nov. 10, WKU scored its most
points in a single quarter since moving to the system in 2015-16, netting 35 points
in the fourth frame against the Sooners. The 35 points were WKU’s most since setting
the previous record of 33 points in the fourth quarter against Dayton in the WNIT on
March 17, 2016.
– The Lady Toppers were picked fourth in the preseason C-USA coaches’ poll, but have
met or exceeded their expectations in each of the last two years. In 2016-17, WKU
won the tournament title after being picked first, and repeated as champions in
2017-18 after a second-place pick.
– WKU put together an 11-1 record inside Diddle Arena last season and has posted an
82-18 record inside the friendly confines of its home arena since Greg Collins has
been with the program in 2012-13. The Lady Toppers will have one more home game this
season when they host Middle Tennessee on March 7.
– WKU enters the 2018-19 season having had only five international letterwinners in
program history, including sophomore Raneem Elgedawy. This year, the Lady Toppers
will sport three international student-athletes on the roster, with Arame Niang and
Meral Abdelgawad joining Elgedawy on The Hill.
– In its four seasons as a C-USA member, WKU has claimed a pair of regular season
titles and has won the conference tournament three times, including back-to-back
wins in both 2017 and 2018. WKU is only the second school in C-USA history to claim
back-to-back tournament titles as a league member, joining former member Tulane, who
won three straight from 1999-2001.
– In each of Greg Collins’ six previous years on WKU’s bench, the Lady Toppers have
had 20 or more victories, with the team looking to extend that streak in 2018-19.
WKU’s current streak of six 20-win seasons is its second-longest in program history,
trailing only seven straight from 1982-83 to 1988-89 during the Paul Sanderford era.
In WKU’s modern era (since 1973-74), five of the 10 head coaches have captured
20-win seasons in their debut years on The Hill, most recently with Michelle
Clark-Heard’s 22 wins in 2012-13.
Listen: 102.7FM, 1450AM in Bowling Green (Brett Williams, pxp; John Butler, analysis)