Lady Toppers Drop Nail-Biter to Rice, 77-74

HOUSTON — The game came down to the wire, but the WKU women’s basketball team fell short against Rice on Saturday night in Houston. There were seven ties and eight lead changes, but the Owls came away with a 77-74 victory.

Raneem Elgedawy led all scorers with 23 points in the game along with eight rebounds. It was Elgedawy’s fourth straight game with 20-or-more points and eighth total this season.

Hope Sivori poured in 22 points on 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, two of which rimmed out in the final seconds of the game. She also had four rebounds, four steals and four assists. Meral Abdelgawad continues to be a utility player for WKU, notching 11 points along with 10 rebounds, six steals and three assists. Myriah Haywood added nine points and four assists in the game. Fatou Pouye had seven rebounds.

The two teams went back-and-forth to start the game, tying three times in the first three minutes. Elgedawy made consecutive layups to give WKU a two-possession lead, helping the Lady Toppers hold an edge the rest of the quarter. With 2:55 left in the period, WKU went on a 6-2 run that gave the Lady Toppers their largest lead of the night, 18-12.

The Owls outscored WKU 21-14 in the second quarter to take a 36-32 lead into halftime.

Sivori hit her first of four second half 3-pointers to open the third quarter to get WKU back within one. Just like in the first quarter, the game went back-and-forth for a while until Rice took a six point lead at the 6:41 mark. From there, Sivori hit another three to spark a 7-0 WKU run that would put the Lady Toppers back ahead by one. The teams traded baskets the rest of the period and Rice went into the final quarter ahead, 59-56.

Sivori scored eight straight points for the Lady Toppers to put WKU up by three. That lead held until 21 seconds were left and a Rice player hit back-to-back threes to put the Owls ahead, 76-74. WKU had a look at a three, but it missed the mark and the Owls came down with the rebound. After Rice made only one free throw after a WKU foul, the Lady Toppers had another look but it didn’t go.

WKU was active on defense all night, making 14 steals which tied its season high. The Lady Toppers forced Rice into 19 turnovers. The Owls came into the series averaging 15.6 turnovers per game, but WKU turned Rice over an average of 19.5 times in the two games.

The Owls also came into the game as the nation’s second best three-point shooting team, averaging 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. WKU held Rice to 36.3 percent (16-44) over the weekend.

WKU will be back in action on Friday, Feb. 19 and Saturday, Feb. 20 at E.A. Diddle Arena against North Texas. The Lady Toppers’ Friday game will serve as the team’s Play 4 Kay game and the players will be wearing pink accessories. Saturday’s game will serve as Senior Day for Elgedawy and Pouye.