WKU took control early and used a balanced attack with four players in double figures on Thursday afternoon inside The Ford Center at The Star, taking down UTSA, 78-50, to advance to the 2018 C-USA Championships Semifinals.
Ivy Brown led the way for the Lady Toppers (22-8) with her 16th double-double of the season of 23 points and 12 rebounds. Raneem Elgedawy matched her career-high mark with 19 points and added seven rebounds, C-USA Player of the Year Tashia Brown tallied 12 points and C-USA Sixth Player of the Year Dee Givens added 10 points off the bench.
At the 4:16 mark in the second quarter, Tashia Brown split a pair of free throws to score her 2,000th career point, becoming just the fourth Lady Topper in program history to do so alongside Crystal Kelly, Lillie Mason and Tiffany Porter-Talbert.
Despite scoring just three points on the afternoon, Whitney Creech dished out a career-best 11 assists, 10 of which came in the first half of play.
Marie Benson led the Roadrunners (9-21) with 22 points on the day. WKU limited UTSA to just 21-of-59 shooting (35.6 percent) on the afternoon, and the Roadrunners knocked down only two of their 16 shots (12.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
WKU scored the first seven points of the afternoon to establish their wire-to-wire lead. Tashia Brown tallied three early points, and Ivy Brown’s three-pointer off a feed from Creech helped to key the opening run for the Lady Toppers.
UTSA answered with eight of the game’s next 10 points to pull back within one of the Lady Toppers. Benson and Carlie Heineman combined to score all eight of the points for the Roadrunners, and Benson’s jumper at the 4:00mark cut WKU’s lead down to 9-8.
The Roadrunners briefly pulled within one again, 11-10, less than one minute later, but WKU responded with a 13-0 run that stretched into the second quarter to take a commanding 24-10 lead. Elgedawy had six points during the stretch, and another triple from Ivy Brown capped the run with 9:31 on the clock in the second frame.
Over the final nine minutes of the opening half, the Roadrunners were unable to trim the Lady Toppers’ advantage back to single digits, and WKU carried a 45-27 edge into the locker room.
With WKU up 20 points, 53-33, at the 5:52 mark of the third quarter, the Lady Toppers used a 17-2 run over the remainder of the frame to double-up the Roadrunners heading into the fourth quarter. Six points from Elgedawy, five from Givens and another four from Sidnee Bopp made up all but two of WKU’s points during the run and sent the Lady Toppers into the final 10 minutes with a 70-35 lead.
UTSA made a brief run with seven unanswered points to cut the deficit to 70-44 midway through the final quarter, but WKU’s advantage proved too much to overcome as the Lady Toppers put away the Roadrunners over the final minutes in the 78-50 win.
With Thursday’s win, WKU advances to the C-USA Tournament semifinals for the third time in four seasons as a member of the league. The Lady Toppers will take on No. 11 seed North Texas inside The Ford Center at The Star on Friday evening at 8 p.m. (CT); WKU won the only meeting against the Mean Green this season, taking down North Texas, 79-65, on Jan. 26.