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Lady Tops: Lady Topper Notebook
WKU finally lost a couple of games in C-USA to two of the three current power in C-USA. Where does WKU now stand?
The Western Kentucky Lady Toppers finally had their extensive winning streak snapped against two quality opponents. UAB was the first to zap the Lady Tops, taking them down 86-70. Then MTSU hosted WKU Saturday an hour after men’s game started, staving off the pesky upstart Toppers, upending them 71-64.
Western Kentucky (14-6, 7-2 C-USA) built themselves a cushion early on in C-USA play, beating some teams that will likely not compete for any kind of top seed in the C-USA Tournament. However, WKU did have some decent wins and established itself as a definite contender for a bye in the C-USA Tournament. WKU has the same amount of wins in conference after January than they did overall last season (7-16 record in 2020-21).
So barring a complete meltdown, Greg Collins has done two things: 1. Saved his job for now and 2. Put WKU in position to win C-USA immediately.
Now given these two results, it’s obvious WKU still needs mature a little before March to really win three or four games in the Conference USA Tournament. However, is WKU in theory capable of winning C-USA? Absolutely.
In the game against UAB (12-6, 5-2 C-USA), WKU actually led after the first quarter, 18-16. UAB took control in the second, outscoring WKU by 11 in the frame, leading by nine at the halftime break. WKU would rally back, but ultimately faded by the end of the third. WKU would come within four points, but never threatened UAB within a possession after halftime. Although UAB did win by 16, that game was much closer than that.
Against MTSU, the Blue Raiders controlled much more of that game, as should probably be expected, especially in their “glass house”, which they somehow label their home gym with pride. I would think they wouldn’t ever want to throw stones, but that’s just me. Congratulations on your weird gym that literally is half underground. You play in a hole in the ground, Middle.
Anyway, Little Ricky (the angry elf father) and Little Ricky (the slightly taller, strangely imitative son) got it done in Smurfreesboro and handled the Lady Tops.
As it stands, WKU is still in good position. With Middle inexplicably losing to FIU in overtime early in conference play, MTSU and WKU stand tied at 7-2 in the East standings. Charlotte is 5-1, having had some COVID cancellations. Charlotte is a bit of a mystery, with its lone blemish a home loss to ODU by nine after winning at ODU by a trey three days earlier. ODU, along with WKU’s travel partner, Marshall, happen to be tied at 6-3 in conference.
Well, wouldn’t luck/fate have it that WKU plays two teams within a game of itself at this particular juncture? Along with Marshall, who WKU will play the final two games of the season, these four teams battle it out for superiority this week.
So this week will be a significant reckoning in the direction of all four programs involved in this week’s action. Marshall (6-3), ODU (5-2), WKU (7-2), and Charlotte (5-1) will all stand differently by the end of this week. Fortunately for WKU and Marshall, they get their chance to draw first blood in these crucial exchanges between the four teams at home.
Once again, WKU gets a chance to get a cushion before having the tougher games later.
News and Notes:
Meral Abdelgawad continues to lead C-USA in scoring, now scoring 20.2 points per game. She also leads WKU in rebounding and steals while slotting in second in assists. If she finished at that exact average, she would sit tied for 7th in a single season.
Mya Meredith sits at 13.1 points per game. A virtual shoe-in for Conference USA Freshman of the Year, Meredith needs just 120 points to climb into the top five for freshmen all-time. Assuming WKU plays at least 11 more games, if she gets her current average, she should sit third all-time in freshman scoring.
Freshman Alexis Mead is also 80 points from the top ten, and Macey Blevins should be considered within shouting distance of the all-time freshman scoring list.
WKU’s 13 turnovers against UAB were the fewest all season. Unfortunately, WKU’s shooting was its third-worst effort of the season, shooting 36.5%.
Of WKU’s remaining nine games, seven will be against teams with current winning records in Conference USA. If WKU is to earn a top seed, they will have to earn it.
WKU’s next four games are crucial to pad the record. WKU gets two tough opponents at home in Charlotte and ODU. Then Western goes to FAU and comes home against UTSA. FAU and UTSA are the two teams the Lady Toppers face with a combined three wins in conference.
If WKU can find a way to be 3-2 in its last five games, that would be incredible for them. Western goes to Charlotte, to ODU, hosts Middle, hosts Marshall, and goes on the road to Marshall. That’s a brutal final stretch that could easily be five losses in a row to end the year. Even a 2-3 record wouldn’t be a nightmare with that level of opponent.