BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU turned in its strongest defensive performance of the season
and took down preseason C-USA favorite Middle Tennessee, 57-43, inside E.A. Diddle
Arena on Thursday evening in the conference opener for both sides.
The Lady Toppers (10-4, 1-0 C-USA) limited the Blue Raiders to just 43 points, the
fewest allowed by WKU in a single game this season, and held Middle Tennessee (8-6,
0-1 C-USA) to just 13-of-40 (32.5 percent) shooting from the floor. WKU earned its
ninth win in its last 10 games, while Middle Tennessee dropped its third game over
its last five outings.
Despite having her 20-point scoring streak snapped, Tashia Brown finished with a
game-high 17 points while also chipping in seven rebounds and four assists. Ivy
Brown and Sidnee Bopp joined her in double figures with 10 points apiece, and Brown
picked up her eighth double-double of the season with a game-high 11 rebounds.
As a team, WKU knocked down 20 of its 59 shots (33.9 percent) on the night and
finished 13-of-17 (76.5 percent) from the charity stripe. The Lady Toppers committed
just 10 turnovers and turned 17 Middle Tennessee giveaways into 18 points on the
Abbey Sissom was the lone Blue Raider in double figures, finishing with 11 points.
Middle Tennessee was limited to just 2-of-10 (20.0 percent) shooting from beyond the
three-point arc by a stout Lady Topper defense.
Both sides got out to a slow start in the first quarter, with WKU taking an early
5-3 lead over the first four minutes of the contest. Just 90 seconds later, however,
the Lady Toppers fired off eight unanswered points, led by five points from Ivy
Brown, to grab a 13-3 advantage with 4:06 on the clock.
Middle Tennessee gradually trimmed the lead back to single digits by the midway
point of the second quarter. Rebecca Reuter knocked down a pair of free throws at
the 6:27 mark to cut WKU’s lead to 15-11, but again the Lady Toppers responded with
a long run to rebuild their double-digit advantage. Spurred by six straight points
from Tashia Brown, WKU closed the frame on a 10-3 run to take a 25-14 lead into
Throughout the third quarter, the Blue Raiders were unable to close the gap any
closer than 10 points. A brief run of five straight points, including three from
Gabby Lyon, trimmed the deficit to 29-19; WKU fought back with five consecutive
points of its own over the next two minutes to push the lead back to 15 points.
Two early three-pointers from Anna Jones and Sissom helped Middle Tennessee climb
within eight points, 41-33, with 8:06 left in regulation, but that would be the
closest that the Lady Topper would allow them to get. WKU used seven straight points
spanning the middle of the quarter to push the advantage to 17, 54-37, and held off
the Blue Raiders down the stretch to reach the 57-43 final score.
The Lady Toppers will face a quick turnaround as they become accustomed to C-USA
play, getting just one day of rest before battling Southern Miss inside Diddle Arena
on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. WKU defeated the Golden Eagles in the 2017 C-USA
Tournament championship game and has won four straight in the series; Saturday’s
game will also be carried on Fox College Sports across the nation.
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