BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Coming off a 30-point win in its lone exhibition contest of the
preseason, Lady Topper Basketball is set to open the 2018-19 regular season with a
battle against No. 5/4 Louisville inside E.A. Diddle Arena on Tuesday evening. WKU
and Louisville will be meeting for the 46th time in school history, with the Lady
Toppers holding a 25-20 edge in the all-time series.
Featuring a fast-paced offense, WKU used a run-and-gun style to defeat West Virginia
State, 104-74, last Thursday, with Dee Givens leading the way with 27 points in just
three quarters. Well-balanced scoring, with six players in double figures, was also
a key for WKU.
Picked fourth in the preseason C-USA coaches’ poll behind UAB, Rice and Middle
Tennessee, WKU graduated two of its all-time great players in Tashia and Ivy Brown
following last year, but also returns the 2018 C-USA Freshman and Sixth Player of
the Year, with Raneem Elgedawy and Dee Givens set for key roles in 2018-19.
Transfers Alexis Brewer and Arame Niang, who sat out last season, are finally
eligible for the Lady Toppers, as is graduate transfer Jae’Lisa Allen, who will
bring depth and experience as a post player.
Following Tuesday’s bout, WKU will go on the road for the first time on Friday
evening at 7 p.m., heading west to face Oklahoma for only the second time in program
GAME #1 – WKU VS. NO. 5/4 LOUISVILLE
WKU (0-0, 0-0 C-USA) vs. No. 5/4 Louisville (0-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast)
November 6, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– Since Greg Collins has been on staff, the Lady Toppers have battled 11 ranked
opponents, coming away with a victory over one in each of the last three seasons.
Tuesday’s game will mark the fifth time that WKU has faced a ranked Louisville squad
since 2013-14, with the four previous meetings being decided by an average of only
– Louisville head coach Jeff Walz, who would earn his 300th career victory with the
Cardinals with a win on Tuesday, has extensive ties to the Lady Topper program. Walz
served as an assistant coach under the legendary Paul Sanderford at WKU during the
1996-97 season, and former Lady Topper head coach Michelle Clark-Heard served as an
assistant under Walz with the Cardinals for five seasons.
– Louisville, ranked preseason No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the Coaches’ Poll,
is the highest-ranked team to visit Diddle Arena since Nov. 27, 2013, when then-No.
4 Louisville came to Bowling Green. WKU will be eyeing its first top-5 victory since
defeating No. 4 Louisiana Tech, 88-86, on Jan. 25, 1998.
– In WKU’s exhibition matchup against West Virginia State, the Lady Toppers pushed
the tempo with a run-and-gun style offense, racking up 57 first-half points and
outscoring the Yellow Jackets, 32-13, in the fast-break category. Perhaps most
impressively, WKU’s average time of possession in the contest was just 12 seconds as
the Lady Toppers were able to execute their gameplan nearly to perfection.
– Against West Virginia State, WKU shot 50 percent or better from the floor in all
four quarters, finishing the game with a stellar 60.6 percent (40-of-66) mark. Among
players who attempted at least five shots, five of seven players knocked down better
than half of their attempts against the Yellow Jackets.
– WKU moved the ball extremely well in its exhibition tilt, finishing with 29
assists on 40 made baskets, with five different players recording at least four
assists apiece. Had the 29 assists counted for WKU’s records, the total would have
been tied for seventh in a single game in school history and would have been the
Lady Toppers’ most in a game since having 37 against Lamar on Jan. 11, 1997.
– Following the departure of Jevin Redman, new play-by-play man Brett Williams is
set to make his regular season debut for WKU on Tuesday evening. A graduate of the
University of South Carolina, Williams joins the Lady Toppers from Queens University
in Charlotte, N.C., and brings extensive broadcasting experience at the collegiate
– 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.
– To start the regular season, WKU is projected to play three preseason top-15 teams
in its first six games, battling against No. 5 Louisville, No. 13 Iowa and No. 8
Oregon State. Central Michigan is also receiving votes in the preseason AP poll.
– Over its first four seasons as a member of Conference USA, WKU owns a 59-11 mark
against the rest of the league since joining and posted a 12-4 record last season.
– WKU put together an 11-1 record inside Diddle Arena last season and has posted a
74-12 record inside the friendly confines of its home arena since Greg Collins has
been with the program in 2012-13. The Lady Toppers enter the 2018-19 season with an
11-game winning streak on their home floor dating back to Nov. 30, 2017, last
– For the first time since the 2010-11 season, WKU will welcome two Power 5 programs
to E.A. Diddle Arena. That season, the Lady Toppers hosted Northwestern and Texas
Tech, and this year both Louisville and Iowa will make the trip to Bowling Green.
– WKU enters the 2018-19 season having had only six 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.
– Since becoming a member of C-USA prior to the 2014-15 campaign, WKU has posted a
33-2 record against conference foes inside Diddle Arena, never losing more than one
game in a single season. The Lady Toppers currently own a 19-game home winning
streak in conference play dating all the way back to a 62-51 win over Middle
Tennessee on Feb. 25, 2016.
– 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.
– Among its returning players, WKU was 109-of-317 (34.4 percent) from beyond the arc
last season, a number that would sit just outside the top 10 single-season
percentages in school history. In addition, the Lady Toppers will add Alexis Brewer
into the mix. A dangerous sharpshooting threat, Brewer was 58-of-143 (40.6 percent)
in two seasons at West Virginia, ranking second in the Big 12 in percentage as a
sophomore in 2016-17.
– WKU sits only 16 wins shy of a huge milestone in program history, entering the
2018-19 season with 984 wins. In the history of Division I women’s basketball, only
nine programs have collected 1,000 total wins. WKU (984), Green Bay (983), Maryland
(972), South Dakota State (967) and Notre Dame (964) are all within striking
distance of joining that exclusive club this season.
– One of the top three-point shooters in program history, Sidnee Bopp heads into her
senior season on The Hill with a career 40.1 percent (81-of-202) mark from beyond
the arc and has shot better than 40 percent in each of the last two years. Bopp’s
career percentage ranks fourth in WKU history, and the Marmaduke, Ark., native will
be chasing Kim Pehlke’s program record of 41.6 percent (209-of-502) this year.
– With the release of the preseason AP poll on Oct. 31, WKU appears slated to play
at least three ranked opponents in its first six outings this season, with a fourth
(Central Michigan) receiving votes in the poll. Should WKU face three ranked
opponents, it would mark the second time in the last three seasons that the Lady
Toppers have done so. In 2016-17, WKU battled Indiana (#23), DePaul (#18) and
Louisville (#8) in the regular season before drawing Ohio State (#11) in the NCAA
– 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)
Live Stream: ESPN+ (Jeff Younglove, pxp; Paul Sanderford, analysis)