Lady Toppers Make Statement, Win on the Road at Mercer, 75–62
Well, if the Greg Collins era needed a nice “Wow!” type of win, it has now come at the paws of the Mercer Bears women’s basketball team.
While we were all finishing up our work weeks, the Lady Toppers were going to work against Mercer Friday afternoon.
In an ultra impressive victory against a team predicted to win their conference, WKU traveled on the road to Macon, Georgia, to defeat Mercer, 75–62.
There is something different about this Lady Toppers team in 2019–20, and now we can put our finger on it: They can defend.
Western Kentucky (1–1) came out of the gate ready to go, pouncing on Mercer, shooting 53 percent overall and hitting 3-of-6 from behind the arc in the first quarter. WKU would end the quarter up 21–14.
In the second quarter, WKU went ice cold from everywhere, only scoring seven in the quarter, even missing 6-of-8 free throws. However, Mercer only scored 13 itself, failing to really capitalize on the Topper second quarter anemia.
WKU was fortunate to lead by one at the halftime break, 28–27. Both offenses clicked after the halfway mark. WKU surrendered its one point lead to allow a tie entering the fourth.
Then, frankly, all hell broke loose and WKU smashed the Bears to a bloody pulp, outscoring a respectable offensive output from the Bears by 13, 28–15 in the fourth.
WKU gained all of its final margin of victory by absolutely destroying them in the final frame, shooting 4-of-4 from deep and seemingly hitting everything in sight.
A final score not indicative of a slugfest with tons of turnovers, leads changed hands 12 times and the game was tied on eight separate occasions.
In a breaking of the Topper trend from last year, this was not the typical Dee Givens show per se. Dee was decent, only shooting 4-of-12, scoring ten and grabbing nine boards. She contributed in other ways, though, dishing five assists and stealing the ball five times.
Raneem Elgedawy, Meral Abdelgawad, And Whitney Creech really carried the Tops this game.
Elgedawy had a monster double-double, scoring 18 and grabbing 19 rebounds. Again showing her massive potential, Raneem continues to produce an eye popping rebound performance every few games. Through two games, she is averaging 13.5 rebounds.
Meral Abdelgawad (6–9, 3–5 3 PT, 15 points, 5 rebounds) proved once again her potential. As a true sophomore, if she can be consistently in double digits and shooting a good percentage, WKU would have a true bona fide third or fourth scorer.
Whitney Creech finally had a breakout performance. In her first two games (including exhibition), she has taken multiple attempts from behind the arc but had not connected from deep. She canned both of her three point attempts on Friday, finally connecting from behind the arc.
She also nailed 7-of-8 free throws and finished with 17 points and four assists.
Ultimately the Tops overcame a sloppy performance on both sides (45 total turnovers) to get a really, really nice (resume building) win.
They were highly scrutinized last season, but kudos to them for really coming together and making a statement with a big early season win.
Again, signs of improvement abound for the Tops. WKU has held its third straight opponent to 75 or less, something that just did not happen last season until conference play.
We know WKU can score, with a starting lineup full of threats to finish in double digits. With Whitney Creech being much more aggressive this season, it opens up a world of offensive possibilities. The two ladies from Egypt (Abdelgawad and Elgedawy) have always been willing to shoot, and Dee Givens is a bona fide star that seems to never have an off game. She has not produced tons of points this season, but continues to produce in other areas.
Add Sherry Porter in with Myriah Haywood and Sandra Skinner, and Western has a legitimate rotation of seven or eight that can make some things happen.
Again, place your eyes upon the Lady Topper schedule. Go pick a few games to go to, because they’ll probably win. They’re going to be better than last year, without question.
The Lady Toppers head home for a stretch of three games against what should be top 100 competition at year’s end: Belmont, CMU, and UALR. All were picked to finish first in their leagues, and all are recent NCAA Tournament participants with recent NCAA Tournament runs.
This is a huge opportunity for WKU to measure itself at home and possibly set up a really good Strength of Schedule and stack some Top 100 wins for either an argument for an at-large bid or a better seeding potential in March.
With its schedule, if WKU can keep over .500 through the non-conference portion, it would create massive confidence for the Tops. If WKU could go 2–1 or better over its next three games, that would establish the Tops as a really good mid-major threat going forward.
WKU takes on Belmont in Diddle Arena this Wednesday at 6 PM Central Time.