Lady Toppers Stay Undefeated in League Play with 87-66 Win Against FIU

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Nine straight wins. Perfect 7-0 record in Conference USA. Thirteen wins in the last 14 games. It’s safe to say the WKU women’s basketball team is on a roll. The Lady Toppers defeated FIU, 87-66, on Saturday afternoon in E.A. Diddle Arena to improve to 14-4 overall on the season.

WKU’s nine-game winning streak is currently tied for the third longest in the nation. The Lady Toppers are also one of just five teams in the country still undefeated in league play after playing at least seven games. WKU’s 7-0 start to C-USA play is the best since WKU went 8-0 to start in the 2015-16 season.

“They’re growing in their belief in one another,” said head coach Greg Collins. “I think each of them had a belief that they were a good basketball player, but now they’re starting to grow and believe that they’re greater together than they are individually. That’s what makes it special.”

Three Lady Toppers scored in double figures against the Panthers. Meral Abdelgawad led WKU in scoring for the 13th time this season with 28 points along with six rebounds, five assists and three steals. It was her ninth 20-point game of the season. Mya Meredith poured in 16 points to go with five rebounds and five steals. Alexis Mead added 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor, including 2-of-2 from the perimeter. She also had six rebounds and four assists.

For the sixth straight game, WKU has held its opponent below 70 points. The Lady Toppers improve to 51-13 under Collins when doing so. It was the sixth time this season WKU has scored 80 or more points and the Lady Toppers are 6-0 when putting at least 80 points on the board. The Lady Toppers shot a season 55.4 percent from the field (31-of-56) and it was the sixth time this season WKU has shot at least 40 percent from the perimeter (40.9 percent tonight).

The Lady Toppers opened the game on a 10-0 run, sparked by seven points from Abdelgawad. FIU would attempt to get back into the game from the perimeter with four made 3-pointers, but WKU made four of their own to keep the Panthers at bay, 26-17, going into the second quarter.

Both teams cooled down in the second quarter, combining for 14 turnovers. WKU outscored the Panthers 12-7 in the final half of the quarter to take a 45-30 lead into halftime.

The third quarter was an offensive struggle for WKU. The Lady Toppers went 3-of-12 from the field, including just 1-of-6 from three in the frame. FIU was able to cut the lead to six going into the final period.

The WKU offense came back to life in the fourth with the Lady Toppers pouring in 31 points in the frame. It was the third time this season WKU has scored 30-plus points in a single quarter. That quarter featured a 9-0 and a 10-0 run from WKU to give the Lady Toppers a 31-16 edge in the period.

At halftime of the game, WKU recognized the 1992 National Runner-Up team for their induction in the WKU Athletic Hall of Fame. Head coach Paul Sanderford was joined by his full coaching staff and seven student-athletes from the team.

“It was that group and the other teams that Coach Sanderford had that really built this tradition,” said Collins. “They proved there aren’t any limits on what you can achieve. The limits are in your head. They proved that they could accomplish the same as anyone else from any other university can. We’re just trying to live up to their standard.”

WKU hits the road next week to take on UAB (Thursday, Jan. 27) and Middle Tennessee (Saturday, Jan. 29).