The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team returns home looking to start a new streak when it hosts Louisiana Tech at 7 p.m. today at E.A. Diddle Arena.
WKU (17-3 overall, 6-1 Conference USA) returns home after a 64-63 loss at University of Texas at San Antonio, a game that snapped the Lady Toppers’ 14-game win streak and knocked WKU out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll.
“We are definitely ready to get back on the court and redeem ourselves,” WKU senior guard Alexis Govan said. “It’s a big game coming home. We hope to have a big fan base behind us, and we are just ready to get back to work.”
Louisiana Tech (10-8, 5-2) comes in having won five of the last six games under first-year coach Tyler Summitt, the son of former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. The Lady Techsters start five seniors and have a prolific offense, having scored at least 77 points in eight of the last nine games.
“They are a very athletic team,” WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard said. “Tyler has been doing an excellent job. They love to get up and down the floor, press. They have five seniors starting and they know what it is all about. We are going to have to make sure that we handle the pressure, make open shots, rebound and guard.”
Louisiana Tech’s lone loss in the last six games was an 82-59 defeat at Middle Tennessee, which is tied with WKU for the top spot in Conference USA.
“It’s unfortunate because we had to play MTSU after they lost on their home court, and now we are going to have to play Western on their home floor after a loss, so we are getting teams that are upset and looking for revenge,” Summitt said. “I’m not sure if that is the best thing, but either way we are excited to play one of the top teams in our conference.”
Summitt said he has been impressed with WKU’s play and that it presents a challenge for his defense.
“You look at Western and they know what they want,” Summitt said. “They have their system. They’ve been running it. They have a lot of things they can throw at you, and they are very comfortable in their system. We are still trying to figure ours out, so it is nice to watch them. They know their reads and know what they want to do. We’ve got to be able to go in there and disrupt what they want to do. If we let them play their game, it is going to be a long night for us.”
This week presents a big chance for the Lady Toppers to gain some separation from teams chasing them in the standings.
After tonight’s game with Louisiana Tech, WKU hosts Southern Miss on Saturday. Southern Miss is also one game back from WKU and MTSU in the conference standings.
“I think every week is a big week,” Heard said. “It is just important for us to keep getting better. When you are in conference play, every game is a big game because anything can change at any moment. We have to make sure we are doing the things we need to do each and every game. I think this game is big and then, when we turn around and get to Southern Miss, that will be big and then all the other games.”
Junior guard Kendall Noble said the team is just excited to be back home and put Saturday’s loss at UTSA behind them.
“I think we are really ready to play,” Noble said. “We’ve been practicing hard. I thought the loss was a learning curve for us. I think maybe we needed to lose. It helped us regroup a little bit.”