WKU Women’s Basketball: Lady Tops survive Halloween scare; defeat Wesleyan 72-60

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. The WKU women’s basketball team had quite the fright on Halloween night. The Lady Toppers found themselves down early against Kentucky Wesleyan in WKU’s lone exhibition game of the season, but a second half comeback helped earn a 72-60 victory.

“I like playing Kentucky Wesleyan because they’re well-coached, they’re a good team, they were in the NCAA Tournament last year, and they got five-out and they shoot the three,” said head coach Greg Collins. “That was the one style that really bothered us the most last year. UAB plays that way, Marshall plays that way, we lost to Ohio in the WNIT because they played that way. This was a style that if we’re going to play bigs, then we have to be able to guard this style. We didn’t for a while. Then we started learning and adjusting.”

The Panthers were the first to put points on the board over three minutes into the game after both teams struggled early. Dee Givens came right back down the court on the next possession to score WKU’s first points. After Kentucky Wesleyan got back ahead by three, Meral Abdelgawad knocked down a trey to tie up the score once again. From there, the Panthers connected on six 3-pointers to take a 26-19 lead into the second quarter.

A few minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Toppers went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for the first time, sparked by a jumper from Myriah Haywood. The Panthers continued to push, retaking the lead and going ahead by as much as eight in the quarter. Sandra Skinner closed out the half with a pair of free throws to bring the score to 42-36 at the break.

Kentucky Wesleyan continued to do damage from beyond the arc in the third quarter, but less often. The Panthers instead used a triple to slow down runs from WKU. Givens connected on a 3-pointer less than a minute into the game but the Panthers had a three of their own to push the score back out to eight. The Lady Toppers cut it to six and Kentucky Wesleyan once again a three for the answer. WKU made an 8-0 run to take the lead late in the quarter, but a Panther three right before the break put Kentucky Wesleyan back up by two heading to the fourth.

The Lady Toppers came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points and holding the Panthers to just seven. The offensive outburst was sparked by a 14-0 run and four forced turnovers.

Givens led all scorers with 19 points with four 3-pointers. She also added nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. Raneem Elgedawy had a double-double for the Lady Toppers with 15 points and 16 boards. Elgedawy struggled from the floor to start the game, going 1-of-6 in the first half, but made 5-of-6 in the second half.

Sherry Porter turned in a solid performance with 10 points and five rebounds. Whitney Creech had seven assists on the night and six boards.

WKU outrebounded the Panthers, 53-28.

Kentucky Wesleyan made 12 3-pointers on the night. The only teams that made more than that against WKU last season were Louisville, Oklahoma, Iowa and Central Michigan. Those four opponents were the first four on the Lady Topper’s 2018-19 schedule.

WKU will have a quick turnaround with the season opener only four days away. The Lady Toppers will take on No. 9 Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.