The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team split a pair of games at Louisiana Tech to open Conference USA play with a 58-52 loss on Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Toppers (2-6, 1-1 C-USA) won the first matchup against Louisiana Tech (7-3, 2-2 C-USA) on Friday 61-55.

Hope Sivori led all scorers with 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 from the 3-point line, including a halfcourt heave that missed the target at the end of the game. The 23 points were a career high for the freshman and it was her first 20-point performance.

Ally Collett put in 12 points along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals. Collett had a pair of 3-pointers and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. She has scored in double digits in six games this season. Her five rebounds were a career high.

Fatou Pouye added 11 points and continued her streak of double-digit games to five straight. The senior also had eight rebounds and two assists. Meral Abdelgawad was the team’s leading rebounder with nine boards along with three assists and two steals.

WKU was a perfect 9-of-9 from the free-throw line on the night. The Lady Toppers narrowly won the battle on the boards, 36-35, but were outmatched offensively in the paint 28-12.

The Lady Toppers took an early lead thanks to an 11-0 run early in the first quarter. WKU took a six-point lead into the second quarter, but the Lady Techsters made a dent in the advantage by outscoring the Lady Toppers by one in the frame.

That lead vanished in the third quarter behind an 11-0 run from Louisiana Tech. Sivori stopped the run with a 3-pointer and then a bucket by Pouye brought it back within one, but the Lady Techsters used another run, this time 8-0, to go back ahead by seven. WKU cut it to three twice in the fourth quarter, but another 8-0 LA Tech run put the game away.

The Lady Toppers will be back in action against Marshall this week. The two teams will split games between Bowling Green and Huntington, W.Va., over the week with the first game being hosted by Marshall on Thursday and the second game Jan. 17 at WKU.{&end}

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