WKU WBB Wins C-USA Opener with Career Nights from Abdelgawad and Meredith

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — WKU women’s basketball and Southern Miss played at a blistering pace on Thursday night with the Lady Toppers taking a 98-88 win against the Lady Eagles to improve to 1-0 in Conference USA play and 8-4 overall.

“Southern Miss has always been a really well-coached team and they don’t make a lot of mistakes so you have to play your best game to beat them,” said head coach Greg Collins. “They’ve always been difficult for us to play against. I was proud of how we controlled the tempo. That was critical. We knew if we played at their pace it was a disadvantage.”

WKU was powered by two career high games from Meral Abdelgawad with 36 points and Mya Meredith with 24 points. Alexis Mead joined the two in double figures with 13 points. Abdelgawad also had eight rebounds, five assists and two steals in the game. Meredith added three rebounds, three assists and a career high three blocks.

Abdelgawad’s 36 points is her third 30-point game in the last four. She’s one of only two players in NCAA Division I with three games scoring 33 points or more this season. Abdelgawad also surpassed the 1,000 career points threshold during the game, becoming the 42nd member of the WKU 1,000 Point Club.

“I think the difference that people are recognizing now is that (Meral) is putting points on the board. She’s always played with this passion, this energy, this drive. That’s what has separated her from other players. Now her game has grown and evolved to where she’s a more complete player with that offensive element. She plays every day in practice just like it’s that game. That sends a message to our team and our team plays with that energy and that enthusiasm,” Collins said of Abdelgawad.

The Lady Toppers’ 98 points were the most the team has scored this season and the most in regulation by a WKU team since a 101-47 win against FIU on Jan. 11, 2018. For only the second time this season, the Lady Toppers scored 20-plus points in all four quarters.

WKU scored the first four points of the game with Selma Kulo putting the Lady Toppers on the board first. WKU pushed out to a five-point lead twice in the fourth quarter, but took a one-point lead into the second frame. Meredith scored nine of her points in the opening period.

The Lady Toppers started the second quarter on a 12-5 run to go ahead by eight. Nine of those points came from three-straight threes from Abdelgawad. Southern Miss stormed back with an 8-0 run to tie the game. From there, WKU outscored the Lady Eagles 11-4 to take a 48-41 lead into halftime.

The second half was even more of a track meet with a combined with a combined 97 points scored in the half between the two teams. WKU once again got the edge, putting up 50 points to Southern Miss’ 47.

Abdelgawad scored 26 of her points in the second half and shot 81.8 percent from the field and 83.3 from three-point range in the half.

WKU returns to Diddle Arena on Saturday to face Louisiana Tech at 2 p.m. The Lady Techsters fell to Marshall on Thursday, 62-44.