BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – For the third time in four C-USA meetings, WKU got the best of Middle Tennessee in the longtime rivalry matchup on Sunday afternoon, dealing the Blue Raiders a 66-51 loss inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU now owns a winning streak over Middle Tennessee for the first time since winning four straight in the series from March 1, 2003, through Feb. 26, 2004. With the win, WKU also snapped the Blue Raiders’ five-game winning streak as the Lady Toppers extended theirs to three games, currently tied for the longest among C-USA squads.
Kendall Noble led all scorers with 18 points on the afternoon to go along with six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Ivy Brown added 14 points of her own, while Tashia Brown chipped in 13 first-half points. For the game, WKU shot 46.3 percent (25-of-54) as a team and forced the Blue Raiders into 21 turnovers, converting those takeaways into 22 points.
For Middle Tennessee, Alex Johnson led the way with 14 points and was joined in double figures by Ty Petty (11) and Abbey Sissom (10). Petty also led the team with six rebounds and a trio of assists but was held to just 4-of-12 shooting with four turnovers.
WKU jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first four points of the game off Ivy Brown’s layup and a pair of free throws from Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. Middle Tennessee cut back into the lead over the next two minutes, but WKU answered with five more unanswered points, capped by a long Tashia Brown pullup jumper to give the Lady Toppers an 11-4 lead at the 2:40 mark.
The lead grew to as many as nine points before the end of the quarter, and another of Tashia Brown’s signature jumpers with 47 seconds to play gifted WKU a 17-9 lead following the first frame.
Middle Tennessee trimmed WKU’s lead to just four points, 17-13, midway through the second quarter by scoring the first four points of the period. Whitney Creech halted the run with a jumper from the right side of the circle with 5:29 on the clock, and WKU added four more points during the stretch to take its first double-digit advantage of the day.
Johnson ended the Lady Topper run on a layup with just over three minutes to play, setting up WKU’s big run to end the first half. The Lady Toppers scored the final nine points over the quarter, punctuated by Ivy Brown’s layup with nine seconds to play that handed WKU a 32-15 halftime advantage.
WKU’s lead continued to expand in the third quarter, growing to as many as 33 points on three different occasions late in the period. Ivy Brown’s three-pointer from the top of the key with 2:28 to play gave the Lady Toppers their final 33-point lead at 55-22 before the Blue Raiders trimmed the deficit to just 28, 57-29, at the end of the quarter.
Over the final 10 minutes, Middle Tennessee outscored the Lady Toppers by a 22-9 margin, but the deficit was too great for the Blue Raiders to overcome as WKU earned the 66-51 victory in the rivalry matchup.
Following today’s game, WKU will return to action next Saturday at 2 p.m. inside Diddle Arena against Marshall to complete its three-game homestand. The Lady Toppers will be seeking revenge for a 66-63 setback in last year’s C-USA Quarterfinals against the Thundering Herd and lead the all-time series 6-1.
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