WKU Women’s Basketball: Lady Tops lose first C-USA game 69-56 to Southern Miss

WKU out-rebounded 42 to 26 in loss

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Southern Miss used a 14-0 run across the first and second quarters and held off a spirited WKU rally in a 69-56 setback for the Lady Toppers on Thursday evening inside E.A. Diddle Arena.

WKU (11-9, 5-1 C-USA) dropped its first C-USA home game inside Diddle Arena since Feb. 6, 2016, ending a streak of 22 consecutive conference wins on its home court. A late 10-0 run pulled the Lady Toppers within six points midway through the fourth quarter, but they were unable to close out the strong comeback effort.

The Lady Toppers shot 32.1 percent (17-of-53) from the floor and were held to only 2-of-19 shooting (10.5 percent) from three-point range. Raneem Elgedawy had her third straight game with at least 20 points, finishing with 20 and falling just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds.

“Tonight we weren’t determined in what we were trying to do,” Head Coach Greg Collins said. “They were able to execute their game plan better than we were able to execute ours.”

Southern Miss (10-10, 2-5 C-USA) was led by double-doubles from Respect Leapheart (24 points, 11 rebounds) and Kelsey Jones (14 points, 13 rebounds) on the night. The Lady Eagles held a 42-26 advantage on the boards and were 7-of-18 (38.9 percent) from beyond the arc.

Southern Miss jumped in front early and took control of the game with a 14-0 run that spanned into the second quarter. Up 8-5 over the Lady Toppers, the Lady Eagles held WKU without a point for the next seven minutes to seize a 22-5 edge after a Brown three-pointer with 8:06 to play in the second frame.

Givens was able to cut the deficit back to 10 points after a pair of free throws two minutes later, but the Lady Toppers were unable to cut it back to single digits before the break. WKU headed into the locker room trailing Southern Miss, 34-23.

WKU made a run out of the gates in the third quarter, scoring six of the first 10 points in the period to cut the lead back to single digits. Arame Niang knocked down back-to-back baskets for the Lady Toppers after a Leapheart layup, bringing the Lady Toppers within 38-29 of the Lady Eagles.

Although Southern Miss quickly rebuilt the double-digit advantage, WKU used a 10-0 run stretching into the fourth quarter to close the gap to just six points, the closest that the Lady Toppers had come since the 2:40 mark of the first quarter. Three different players scored during the run, which was spearheaded by seven points from Elgedawy. Her three-point play with 7:57 on the clock left Southern Miss clinging to a 51-45 lead.

The Lady Toppers were unable to finish off the comeback, however, as Brown’s three-pointer ended the long run and WKU could not get any closer than that six-point gap down the stretch in the 69-56 setback.