BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU opened the game on a 15-0 run, but UT Arlington responded with a 24-point fourth quarter as the Lady Toppers dropped a tight 71-68 matchup inside E.A. Diddle Arena on Wednesday evening.
Despite leading for more than 37 minutes, the Lady Toppers (1-1) could not overcome a 46-26 deficit in paint points and a 28-9 differential in points scored by bench players. Ivy Brown led all scorers for the second straight game with 18 points.
Tashia Brown (15) and Kayla Smith (13) also reached double figures for WKU, while Smith and Kendall Noble tied for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Rebekah VanDijk tallied a double-double for the Lady Mavericks (2-0) with 14 points and 12 rebounds and was joined in double figures by Christina Devers (15), Cierra Johnson (14) and Breck Clark (10).
WKU raced out of the gates against the Lady Mavericks, scoring the game’s first 15 points over the opening five minutes. Three consecutive three-pointers, one from Smith and a pair from Ivy Brown, keyed the run, and a pair of free throws from Smith with just under five minutes remaining in the frame put the Lady Toppers up 15-0. VanDijk finally ended the initial run with a jumper at the 4:23 mark to give UT Arlington its first points of the evening.
The Lady Mavericks fought their way back into the game in the second quarter, using a 9-2 run to cut WKU’s lead to just six points, 35-29, with just over three minutes remaining in the half. Four different UT Arlington players scored during the stretch, punctuated by two free throws from Devers with 3:17 on the clock.
Neither side could make a dent in the six-point advantage, and WKU carried a 39-33 lead into the halftime break.
WKU’s lead grew to as many as 11 points on two occasions during the third quarter, but UT Arlington was able to close the frame on a 10-4 run over the final four and a half minutes to cut the deficit to 52-47 going into the final 10 minutes. Balanced scoring again keyed the Lady Mavericks as four different scorers contributed to the run.
Both sides battled throughout a fourth quarter that featured four ties and five lead changes, but a late layup by UT Arlington’s Johnson with 23 seconds remaining put the Lady Mavericks ahead for good. Tashia Brown attempted a three-pointer from the right corner with just over one second left on the clock but could not convert the chance to send the game to overtime.
WKU will close out its season-opening three-game homestand on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. as the Lady Toppers welcome No. 23/RV Indiana to Diddle Arena. WKU leads the all-time series against the Hoosiers by a 4-2 margin, but the two sides have not met since an 85-70 Indiana victory on Nov. 17, 2001.
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