Lady Tops defeat Charlotte 71-60

Western Kentucky Lady Toppers guard Whitney Creech (5) shoots during WKU's 71-60 win over Charlotte on Thursday, March 5, 2020, at E. A. Diddle Arena. (Austin Anthony/photo@bgdailynews.com)

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team needs just one more win to finish off a perfect season at home.

The Lady Toppers have higher expectations, however.

WKU will face Louisiana Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena in the regular-season finale before heading to Frisco, Texas, for the Conference USA Tournament next week.

“We’ve still got plenty of games left to play,” senior point guard Whitney Creech said after Thursday’s 71-60 win over Charlotte. “It may be our last one here, but we’re planning on going to Frisco and making some noise and getting to the NCAA Tournament.”

The Lady Toppers (21-7 overall, 13-4 C-USA) moved to 12-0 at home with Thursday’s win, which also secured one of the top four seeds and a first-round bye in the conference tournament. WKU beat Louisiana Tech (14-14, 6-11) 84-75 on Feb. 6 in Ruston, La., and second-year head coach Greg Collins knows it’ll take another solid effort to beat the Lady Techsters a second time.

“They took Rice to overtime and had a lead in regulation. I think Rice made a shot to tie it and put it in overtime, so I think they had an opportunity to win it, so that tells you right there just how strong and how good of a team Louisiana Tech is,” he said after Thursday’s win. “This conference is as good as it’s ever been and you can’t discount a team based on their record. On any given night, literally any team in this conference can beat any other team. Just like tonight, it will take our best effort to beat Louisiana Tech.”

The Lady Techsters followed the 73-60 overtime loss versus C-USA-leading Rice with a 69-30 win at UTSA on Thursday. Louisiana Tech has the fifth-best scoring offense in C-USA at 67 points per game, 7.2 points per game fewer than WKU’s league-best 74.2 per game. Amber Dixon leads the team with 12.3 points per game and Keiunna Walker averages 10.9. Grayson Bright led Louisiana Tech with 25 points in the previous meeting, Dixon had 17 and Walker had 11.

“Number one, they’re really well-coached and they play so tough, they’re fast, they like to get up and down the floor and they can pour points in there in a hurry,” Collins said. “They can have a 30-point quarter in the bat of an eye.”

WKU has struggled rebounding in its last two games and trailed by one point entering the second half Thursday, before exploding for 30 points in the third quarter. Raneem Elgedawy led the Lady Toppers with a career-high 29 points and also had 16 rebounds. She had 17 in the Feb. 6 meeting, while Creech, Dee Givens, Alexis Brewer and Meral Abdelgawad all finished with double-digit point totals.

The game in Ruston was the first of six games WKU played without Sherry Porter after she suffered an MCL injury in the third quarter against FIU on Feb. 1. Porter returned against Middle Tennessee and played 29 minutes and was in the game for nine minutes Thursday.

“It just helps having Sherry because she’s another quick, good ball hawk, good defender. She handles the ball well, she can break down defenses. Her 3-point shot is not quite back to where it was, but she’s a pretty good 3-point shooter when she’s in that rhythm, so it’s just good to have her back,” Collins said. “I’ve said all season the strength of this team is the team and Sherry’s a part of that. She’s another piece.”

WKU’s four senior players – Givens, Creech, Brewer and Sandra Skinner – as well as head manager Wes Schooler, will be honored in a ceremony following the game.

LOUISIANA TECH (14-14, 6-11) AT WESTERN KENTUCKY (21-7, 13-4)

2 p.m., Saturday, E.A. Diddle Arena

Probable starters

LOUISIANA TECH

Anna Larr Roberson, f, 6-3, fr. (6.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg); Keiunna Walker, g, 5-6, so. (10.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg); Amber Dixon, g, 5-10, jr. (12.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg); Grayson Bright, g, 5-11, sr. (9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg); Lotte Sant, g, 6-1, fr. (5.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg).

WESTERN KENTUCKY

Dee Givens, f, 6-1, r-sr. (16.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg); Raneem Elgedawy, f, 6-4, jr. (17.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg); Meral Abdelgawad, g, 5-11, so. (8.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Whitney Creech, g, 5-8, sr. (13.8 ppg, 4.6 apg); Alexis Brewer, g, 5-9, r-sr (6.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg).

Television

C-USA TV

Radio

ESPN 102.7 FM and 1450 AM in BG

Coaches

Brooke Stoehr/Scott Stoehr (65-56 fourth season; 136-114 overall), Louisiana Tech; Greg Collins (41-22 second season; 41-22 overall), WKU.

Series record

{span}Louisiana Tech leads the series 26-21 (WKU won the last meeting 84-75 on Feb. 6 in Ruston, La.).{/span}

Last time out

Louisiana Tech won 69-30 at UTSA on Thursday; WKU won 71-60 at home against Charlotte on Thursday.{&end}

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

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