The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team bounced back from two losses to end its trip to the Preseason WNIT in a big way.

The Lady Toppers blew out Kentucky State 96-59 on Sunday at E.A. Diddle Arena to begin a three-game homestand.

“It was just important for us to get back out there and get a win,” WKU freshman guard Alexis Mead said. “We needed to regroup. We went back to the court and just worked on a lot of different things, so for us to come out here and get a win – we’ve just got to keep going after this.”

WKU (2-3) used a 10-0 run late in the first quarter to pull away and the Lady Toppers never looked back on the way to the big victory after losses to Kansas State and UT Martin in Manhattan, Kan., in which they struggled to score.

On Sunday, scoring wasn’t an issue.

The Lady Toppers put up 56 points in the first half – WKU entered the game averaging 61.5 points – and got contributions from nine of the 12 players on the roster in the scoring column through 20 minutes to put the game out of reach early.

Meral Abdelgawad had 16 points in the first half, including a steal and layup before the halftime horn to make it 15 straight WKU points and a 24-2 run to end the half ahead by 36. Macey Blevins had nine first-half points, including three 3-pointers on three attempts in the second quarter, and Hope Sivori had seven first-half points in eight minutes off the bench.

WKU shot 53% from the field and 35% from 3-point range in the half. Many were easy looks created by its defense – the Lady Toppers forced 24 turnovers in the first half leading to 32 points, had a 12-0 advantage in second-chance points and outscored Kentucky State (2-2) 26-8 in the paint.

“We did a lot of steals – we got 26 steals – so I think that was big for us today,” Abdelgawad said.

WKU extended its lead to 76-32 by the end of the third, and took its biggest lead – 46 points – with 9:16 remaining, before cruising to the 96-59 victory.

“It felt like we were going to shoot the ball better than we shot it this past weekend,” Collins said. “ ... I felt like we were going to shoot the ball a little better here, but the most important thing for us was to play solid defense and I felt like we did a good job for three quarters and then the fourth quarter we just forgot all of our structure, all of our rules and we just started gambling and flying around and just doing stupid things, and so we’ll address that tomorrow and get better.”

Abdelgawad finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, seven steals and three assists to lead WKU. Collins said the reason for her performance was “just effort.”

“I’m trying to help them with everything on the court, so I’m trying to do everything – I’m not just focused on the scoring,” Abdelgawad said. “I’m trying to help them rebounding, steals, everything, so that’s what I’m doing.”

WKU added four others in double figures – Blevins and Jaylin Foster had 13 points each and Sivori and Alexis Mead each had 11. Mya Meredith added nine after getting the start for the Lady Toppers, who finished with 28 assists on 35 made field goals. WKU forced 38 turnovers and had 26 steals, which it converted into 46 points in the victory.

Andrea Wallace and Laurie Thomas each had 10 points to lead Kentucky State. The Thorobreds are scheduled to travel to Fort Valley State on Saturday for their next game.

WKU will continue its homestand Wednesday with a game against Indiana State that’s scheduled to start at noon, before playing its final game of the stretch at Diddle Arena on Nov. 28 against Tennessee State.{&end}

– Follow sports reporter Jared MacDonald on Twitter @JMacDonaldSport or visit bgdailynews.com.