The Western Kentucky University Lady Toppers picked up an early signature win, 74-63, over the Oklahoma Lady Sooners from the Big 12 Conference last Wednesday night at E.A. Diddle Arena as part of the BB&T Classic.
The Lady Toppers move to 6-2 on the season remain perfect at home with a 4-0 record in Diddle. Wednesday's win against Oklahoma was the first win by Western Kentucky against a Big 12 team since a 61-56 win against Texas on Jan. 11, 1990. They have recorded a win against a team from a Power Five conference in five of the last six seasons.
"This kind of defines our team at this point," Lady Toppers head coach head coach Greg Collins said. "We needed a big win for our confidence. I told the kids, 'People are going to realize you're legit now.' This program (Oklahoma) in the last 20 years has been one of the most solid basketball programs in the country. They've been to 19 of the last 20 NCAA Tournaments which is pretty phenomenal."
Western Kentucky's defense was the story of the game as they forced Oklahoma into committing 31 turnovers. That's the most since they forced Florida International University into having 31 turnovers on Jan. 1, 2017. They have four games they have forced opponents into committing 20 or more turnovers and double-digit turnovers in every game this season.
Oklahoma led throughout the 1st Quarter. They led by as much as six and led 16-12 at the end of the first. In the 2nd Quarter, Western Kentucky started taking over the game. Back to back 3-pointers by redshirt junior Dee Givens gave them their first lead of the game, 18-16. They would extend their lead to as high as five and led at halftime 31-30.
The Lady Toppers opened the 3rd Quarter with a 9-0 run and outscored the Lady Sooners 25-10 in the period. Junior Sherry Porter's 3-pointer along with free throws by Givens gave them their biggest lead of the game, 52-34. Oklahoma rallied with sophomore Taylor Robertson, the NCAA's leading 3-point shooter, drained three of them to get them to within as low as nine points but trailed 56-45 at the end of three.
The Lady Sooners rallied in the 4th quarter and pulled to within three, 59-56 until junior Raneem Elgesawy's 3-pointer that stopped their run. A layup by sophomore Meral Abdelgawad along with free throws by redshirt senior Sandra Skinner and senior Whitney Creech down the stretch gave the Lady Toppers a 74-63 victory over Oklahoma.
"As far as a win for this program, we've had big wins here at Western Kentucky," Collins said. "In the big scheme of things, it's just another one but for me and this team right now, this is big one for us. To win at home in front of our fans it keeps moving that bar forward."
Raneem Elgedawy, who leads Conference USA In scoring, led all scorers with a game high of 23 points. She was one rebound away from recording a double double. Dee Givens had 18 points with seven rebounds and three steals and Whitney Creech added 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Western Kentucky made 25 of their 68 shots from the floor, shooting 36.8% including making six of their 19 shots from the 3-point line. They also made 18 of their 27 shots from the free throw line for 66.7%.
Junior Ana Llanusa led the Lady Sooners with 19 points with Taylor Robertson scoring 14. Freshman Gabby Gregory scored 11 points with sophomore Nydia Lampkin adding 10 points.
Oklahoma made 25 of their 60 shots from the floor, shooting 41.7% including making six of their 25 shots from the 3-point line. The Lady Toppers' defense held Taylor Robertson, the NCAA's leader in 3-pointers made with 39 to make four out her 15 shots behind the arc. They shot nine free throws for the game, making seven to shoot 77.8%.
The Lady Toppers will be on the road for the rest of the month. Their next home game will be a Conference USA game against the UAB Lady Blazers on Thurs. Jan. 9th at 11;)0 a.m.as part of their annual Education Day game.
OU 16 14 15 18 63
WKU 12 19 25 18 74
OU (63) Llanusa 19, Robertson 14, Gregory 11,
Lampkin 10, Williams 9
WKU (74) Elgedawy 23, Givens 18, Creech 17,
Porter 8, Abdelgawad 6, Skinner 2