Lady Tops Fall To 0-2 in Conference USA with 73-65 Loss To Rice

Credit – WKU Athletics

HOUSTON — The WKU women’s basketball team locked in for a battle against Rice on the road in a game that featured nine ties and eight lead changes. The Owls claimed the victory, 73-65, outscoring the Lady Toppers by 11 in the fourth quarter.

WKU falls to 8-5 on the season and 0-2 in conference play. Rice, the Conference USA preseason favorite and 2019 regular season and tournament champion, improves to 7-6 and 2-0 in the league.

The Lady Toppers were led by Raneem Elgedawy with 23 points. She also had nine rebounds, six steals, an assist and a block. Her six takeaways were a new career high for the junior. Dee Givens added 15 points in the game along with five rebounds. She connected on three shots from deep, snapping a three-game slump with a made 3-pointer. Whitney Creech was the third Lady Topper in double figures with 14 points. She tied her season high in assists with seven along with three steals.

WKU started the game with a statement, jumping out to a 13-4 lead early sparked by the Lady Toppers’ defensive intensity that forced seven turnovers during that run. WKU would go on to force nine total turnovers in the first quarter. After Rice scored the opening basket, the Lady Toppers went on a 13-2 run to build their lead, including six points from Elgedawy. Rice didn’t back down though, outscoring WKU 11-4 to close out the quarter.

The second quarter was fairly evenly balanced with WKU edging Rice in points, 16-14. The difference-maker for WKU came in Elgedawy who scored 12 points in the frame.

Rice scored the first six points of the third quarter to take their first lead of the game, but a 3-pointer from Givens on the next possession put WKU back on top. From there, the two teams went back and forth, tying the score three times. An 8-0 run fueled by Sherry Porter’s five-point spark helped WKU build a six-point lead. The Lady Toppers went into the final quarter ahead by three.

Rice started the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to take the lead. Creech made a jumper in the paint to cut it to one, but the Owls knocked down a 3-pointer to extend it back to a two possession game. On the next play, Givens made a basket to bring it to a two-point game. From there, the two teams would combine to make 20 free throws with only two field goals being scored for the remaining 5:25 left in the game. Fifteen of those free throws were scored by the Owls leading Rice to outscore WKU 24-13 in the final quarter.

For the sixth time this season, WKU forced its opponent into 20-or-more turnovers. The Lady Toppers scored 17 points off those Rice miscues and recorded 12 steals.

WKU shot 72.2 percent from the free throw line, connecting on 10-of-14. Rice was 26-of-36 from the charity stripe for 72.2 percent. Of those 36 free throw attempts, 21 of them came in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Toppers return to E.A. Diddle Arena for the first time in 2020 and the first time since Dec. 4 on Thursday. WKU hosts UAB at 11 a.m. for the annual Education Game. The Lady Toppers will then take on rival Middle Tennessee on Saturday at 2 p.m.