BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Two of the top teams in C-USA will meet for their lone clash of
the regular season as WKU, a winner in eight of its nine conference games, hosts
Rice, the lone unbeaten team in C-USA, at 6 p.m. inside E.A. Diddle Arena on
Thursday. The Lady Toppers will be looking to snap the Owls’ 11-game winning streak
that began back on Dec. 20 against Coastal Carolina.
The first 500 fans into Diddle Arena on Thursday evening will receive a special WKU
Pink-Out shirt commemorating the team’s annual Pink Game.
In its last time out, WKU won a 64-61 thriller at UTEP on Saturday afternoon to
complete a sweep of its west Texas road trip. The Lady Toppers trailed by as many as
12 points before rallying to take the lead for good on Raneem Elgedawy’s basket with
only 10 seconds to play.
Thursday will double as WKU’s annual Pink Game and the Lady Toppers will wear
special pink jerseys as they take on the Owls. WKU has won 23 of its last 24 C-USA
games played inside E.A. Diddle Arena, falling only to Southern Miss on Jan. 24
during that span.
Erica Ogwumike, the Preseason C-USA Player of the Year, averages a double-double for
the Owls with 16.3 points and 11 rebounds per game. Ogwumike is also Rice’s leader
with 55 assists this season. Nancy Mulkey, a 6-9 forward who transferred from
Oklahoma, has 49 total blocks despite missing the season’s first eight games and is
also averaging 12.8 points per outing.
WKU will close out the week following Thursday’s tilt by hosting North Texas on
Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.; the Lady Toppers have won eight straight games against
the Mean Green.
GAME #24 / C-USA GAME #10 – WKU VS. RV/NR RICE
WKU (14-9, 8-1 C-USA) vs. RV/NR Rice (18-3, 9-0 C-USA)
February 7, 2019 | 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– WKU moved one step closer to the 1,000-win plateau with its victory at UTEP on
Feb. 2. The Lady Toppers now sit just two wins shy of becoming the 10th program in
Division I history to reach that mark and could reach the 1,000-win mark as early as
Saturday afternoon against North Texas.
– Saturday’s win at UTEP was WKU’s largest comeback victory since a 13-point
comeback against Charlotte on Feb. 23, 2017. The Lady Toppers trailed by as many as
12 points with 3:45 remaining in the second quarter and rallied from a halftime
deficit for the first time this season.
– 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.
– WKU has a pair of players averaging 20 points per game in C-USA play in Dee Givens
(20.2) and Raneem Elgedawy (20.0). The duo trails only Louisiana Tech’s Kierra
Anthony (21.1) in points per game during conference play.
– Entering Thursday’s game, Dee Givens stands alone as the only Division I
basketball player, male or female, to be shooting 45 percent from the field, 45
percent from three-point range and 85 percent from the free throw line. With 700
combined men’s and women’s teams and approximately 15 players on each roster, Givens
is the only player out of approximately 10,000 nationwide to have these percentages.
– Among the 23 first-time Division I head coaches this season, Greg Collins is
currently second with his 14 victories, trailing only Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen
with 15 wins. 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 76.5 per
– WKU has enjoyed one of its best shooting seasons in recent memory and has hit the
50 percent mark from the floor in 11 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 35-3 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 23 games, both the single-season makes and percentage record in school
history are potentially in sight for the Lady Toppers. WKU has knocked down 157
triples this season and is chasing the record of 242 set in 2016-17, while the Lady
Toppers are shooting 36.3 percent (157-of-432) from beyond the arc, a mark that
would rank eighth in program history.
– Since joining C-USA prior to the 2014-15 campaign, WKU has earned 30 road
victories in conference play. That number tops victory totals for all other C-USA
programs on their own home courts over the same span.
– Over its first five seasons as a member of Conference USA, WKU owns a 67-12 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 12
occasions, coming away with a win in all but one of those games. Over the last three
seasons dating back to 2016-17, the Lady Toppers have posted a 54-4 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 69 total steals, an average of 3.0 per game, this season, a number
that ranks 12th among all qualifying Division I players. Givens’ 69 steals is also
the top mark among all C-USA players. Givens enjoyed a breakout defensive game with
eight steals against Marshall, tied for the most by a C-USA player this season and
the most by a Lady Topper since Kendall Noble’s school-record 10 at North Texas on
Feb. 5, 2015.
– 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’ .867
(91-of-105) percentage ranks fifth in the nation among all Division I players who
have attempted at least 100 free throws this season.
– Under Greg Collins, WKU has featured a revamped, fast-paced offensive attack this
season and is averaging 76.5 points per game through 23 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.
– WKU has been efficient at forcing turnovers this season, forcing its opponents
into an average of 18.2 giveaways per game. The Lady Toppers have forced
double-digit turnovers in 75 straight games dating back to a Jan. 7, 2017, contest
at Old Dominion.
– Through 23 games, Raneem Elgedawy and Meral Abdelgawad have combined to score 619
of WKU’s 1,759 points, just over a third of the team’s total. In addition to their
scoring, the duo has combined for 248 rebounds, also just under a third of the
team’s total of 752.
– 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
82-16 record inside the friendly confines of its home arena since Greg Collins has
been with the program in 2012-13. The Lady Toppers started a new winning streak in
their 81-76 win over Louisiana Tech on Jan. 26.
– 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)