BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Lady Topper Basketball will begin a new era on Thursday evening
at 6 p.m., taking the court for the first time under Head Coach Greg Collins after
he previously spent six years on the bench as an assistant coach; WKU is set to
battle West Virginia State in its lone exhibition matchup of the season.
Admission for all fans for Thursday’s game will be free, and parking for the game
will be free in both Parking Structures 1 and 2 next to E.A. Diddle Arena. Season
tickets for all ticket holders have been mailed and should be received shortly.
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.
New freshmen Kallie Searcy and Meral Abdelgawad will also be making their E.A.
Diddle Arena debuts. Abdelgawad, a former teammate of Elgedawy on the Egyptian
national team, is set to join Niang as only the fifth and sixth international
players to letter for the Lady Toppers.
WKU will open the regular season next Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. as the Lady Toppers
welcome No. 5 Louisville into Diddle Arena for an in-state rivalry clash.
EXHIBITION GAME #1 – WKU VS. WEST VIRGINIA STATE
WKU (0-0, 0-0 C-USA) vs. West Virginia State (0-0, 0-0 Mountain East)
November 1, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– WKU has won 34 consecutive exhibition contests and owns a perfect 7-0 mark in such
games since Greg Collins has been on staff. Last season, Elgedawy had 20 points and
14 rebounds in her WKU debut and the Lady Toppers defeated Union (Tenn.), 101-58, on
Nov. 2, 2017.
– Following the departure of Jevin Redman, new play-by-play man Brett Williams is
set to make his debut for WKU on Thursday 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 level.
– 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)