BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU led by as many as 17 points early in the third quarter before holding off a strong rally down the stretch to claim a 68-61 win over Ball State in its non-conference finale inside E.A. Diddle Arena on Wednesday evening.
Despite being outscored by 10 points in the third quarter, the Lady Toppers (8-4) never relinquished the lead in part due to strong three-point shooting (9-of-23, 39.1 percent) on the evening. Ball State (6-5) dropped its second straight game and fell in a true road game for the first time this season.
Tashia Brown led all scorers with 22 points and Kendall Noble approached a triple-double with 11 points, seven rebounds and nine assists. Ivy Brown did not reach double digits in scoring for the first time this season, but still finished the matchup with nine points and six rebounds. See full stats here.
As a team, WKU knocked down 24 of its 52 shots (46.2 percent) on the evening, including an 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) mark in a 22-point second quarter.
Ball State was led by 18 points from Jill Morrison and she was joined in double figures by Moriah Monaco (12) and Renee Bennett (11). Bennett fell just shy of a double-double by corralling eight rebounds, while Carmen Grande dished out a team-best four assists.
Neither side could gain more than a two-point edge over much of the first quarter as the Lady Toppers and Cardinals matched one another shot for shot. Noble scored four of the first 10 points for WKU, while Bennett matched her total over the first nine minutes.
WKU finally pushed its lead to five points following Ivy Brown’s three-pointer with 1:01 remaining in the opening quarter and the Lady Toppers carried a 15-12 edge after the opening 10 minutes.
Ball State closed the gap to just one, 15-14, early in the second quarter, but WKU answered with a 16-4 run to build its largest lead of the night to that point. Four different Lady Toppers hit three-pointers during the stretch, including Micah Jones’ shot from deep that gave WKU a 31-18 lead with 3:02 to play before the break.
The Cardinals snapped WKU’s run with a Morrison three-pointer but could not get any closer than 10 points before halftime as WKU took a 37-21 lead into the locker room.
WKU pushed its lead to 17 points, 40-23, after Noble’s three-pointer just over a minute into the third quarter, but the Cardinals fired back with a 12-2 run over the next three minutes to cut the Lady Topper advantage down to just seven points. Four points from Bennett and three-pointers from Monaco and Morrison keyed the run for Ball State.
After Jones’ shot from deep rebuilt a double-digit Lady Topper lead, 50-40, with 2:12 remaining in the quarter, Ball State netted seven of the final 10 points of the frame to cut the deficit to 53-47 heading into the final 10 minutes.
Over the final 10 minutes, the Cardinals managed to climb within three points on four different occasions, but each time WKU was able to respond. Morrison’s three-pointer with 2:06 to play was the final time that Ball State made it a one-possession affair; the Lady Toppers answered with the final four points of the contest from the charity stripe to seal the 68-61 victory.
WKU will return to action after a break for the holidays next Friday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. as the Lady Toppers open C-USA play by hosting Florida Atlantic. WKU claimed an 81-62 victory over the Owls on the road last season and leads the all-time series between the two sides by a 15-2 margin.
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