BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Southern Miss used a 14-0 run across the first and second
quarters and held off a spirited WKU rally in a 69-56 setback for the Lady Toppers
on Thursday evening inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU (11-9, 5-1 C-USA) dropped its first C-USA home game inside Diddle Arena since
Feb. 6, 2016, ending a streak of 22 consecutive conference wins on its home court. A
late 10-0 run pulled the Lady Toppers within six points midway through the fourth
quarter, but they were unable to close out the strong comeback effort.
The Lady Toppers shot 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the floor and were held to only
2-of-19 shooting (10.5 percent) from three-point range. Raneem Elgedawy had her
third straight game with at least 20 points, finishing with 20 and falling just shy
of a double-double with nine rebounds.
“Tonight we weren’t determined in what we were trying to do,” Head Coach Greg
Collins said. “They were able to execute their game plan better than we were able to
Southern Miss (10-10, 2-5 C-USA) was led by double-doubles from Respect Leapheart
(24 points, 11 rebounds) and Kelsey Jones (14 points, 13 rebounds) on the night. The
Lady Eagles held a 42-26 advantage on the boards and were 7-of-18 (38.9 percent)
from beyond the arc.
Southern Miss jumped in front early and took control of the game with a 14-0 run
that spanned into the second quarter. Up 8-5 over the Lady Toppers, the Lady Eagles
held WKU without a point for the next seven minutes to seize a 22-5 edge after a
Brown three-pointer with 8:06 to play in the second frame.
Givens was able to cut the deficit back to 10 points after a pair of free throws two
minutes later, but the Lady Toppers were unable to cut it back to single digits
before the break. WKU headed into the locker room trailing Southern Miss, 34-23.
WKU made a run out of the gates in the third quarter, scoring six of the first 10
points in the period to cut the lead back to single digits. Arame Niang knocked down
back-to-back baskets for the Lady Toppers after a Leapheart layup, bringing the Lady
Toppers within 38-29 of the Lady Eagles.
Although Southern Miss quickly rebuilt the double-digit advantage, WKU used a 10-0
run stretching into the fourth quarter to close the gap to just six points, the
closest that the Lady Toppers had come since the 2:40 mark of the first quarter.
Three different players scored during the run, which was spearheaded by seven points
from Elgedawy. Her three-point play with 7:57 on the clock left Southern Miss
clinging to a 51-45 lead.
The Lady Toppers were unable to finish off the comeback, however, as Brown’s
three-pointer ended the long run and WKU could not get any closer than that
six-point gap down the stretch in the 69-56 setback.
WKU will face a quick turnaround before closing out its week at home on Saturday
afternoon at 2 p.m. as the Lady Toppers host Louisiana Tech. Though the longtime
rivalry dates back to the 1980s, WKU has won all six meetings since becoming a
member of C-USA prior to the 2014-15 season. Of those six games, only one victory
has come by single digits; last season, the Lady Toppers picked up a 74-64 victory
on the road in Ruston in the most recent meeting.