No. 8 Duke 80, Lady Toppers 54 — FINAL

Final – The loss is the Lady Toppers’ worst in Diddle Arena since a 96-69 defeat at the hands of Tennessee Tech in 1976.

7:46, 2nd – WKU is down by 29 and has just 10 points in the paint. 31 turnovers now.

11:33, 2nd – WKU trails 57-31 with 11:33 to go. The Lady Toppers have made 6 of 9 shots from 3-point range, but have 29 turnovers. Danay Fothergill is 3 for 3 from 3-point land and leads WKU with 11 points.

15:59, 2nd – WKU with three more turnovers early in the second half. Lady Tops trail 47-23.

Halftime – Duke capitalized on WKU’s turnovers with a 16-1 run, which saw the Lady Toppers held scoreless for nearly eight minutes. They trail the Blue Devils 40-21 at half and have more turnovers (23) than points.

That’s more turnovers than they had in either of their first two games.

The Lady Toppers shot 33.3 percent from the field, while Duke shot better than 50 percent. Honestly, this score could be worse, except that WKU made 5 of 7 3-pointers.

Freshman guard Danay Fothergill leads WKU with seven points, while Chaney Means has six. Still a combined two points and two rebounds for Owens and Mosley.

Tricia Liston has led Duke with 11 points off the bench. Chloe Wells has 10.

3:52, 1st – Duke has sparked a 14-0 run and now leads 36-17 at the under-four timeout. The Lady Toppers have 20 turnovers now. They had 21 in each of their first two games.

WKU has also had virtually no post presence. LaTeira Owens and Keshia Mosley have a combined two points and two rebounds.

7:16, 1st – WKU has been behind by as many as 11, but two 3s by Chaney Means has the Lady Tops within 25-17.

WKU has actually played pretty good defense, but Duke has knocked down some big 3-pointers late in the shot clock. Meanwhile, the Lady Toppers have struggled with the ball, recording 13 turnovers so far.

11:51, 1st – WKU is staying in this one, but it hasn’t been easy. Duke is pressing and trapping in the halfcourt, making it difficult for the Lady Tops to get the ball up the court at times.

They seem very flustered by the Blue Devils’ traps, which is something I’m sure they’ll try to remedy at halftime. WKU has 11 turnovers so far, which has equated to 10 Duke points. The Lady Tops are 3 of 9 from the field.

15:57, 1st – The Lady Toppers are down 8-2 early and have turned the ball over six times in just more than four minutes. That’s turned into six of Duke’s points.

Pregame: The Lady Topper starters are the same as Tuesday’s game at Northwestern: G Chaney Means, G Alexis Govan, F Teranie Thomas, F LaTeira Owens and F Keshia Mosley.

The crowd in Diddle Arena will likely be WKU’s largest in the last two seasons, but it could still be better considering Duke is ranked eighth in the nation.

The Lady Toppers drew 3,148 fans the last time they hosted Duke in the 2008-09 season. WKU drew 948 fans for its season opener against Towson this year.

————————

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team (0-2) will host one of the top teams in the nation at 2 p.m. today, when No. 8 Duke visits E.A. Diddle Arena.

“They’re a nationally ranked team, and for very good reasons,” Cowles said. “They’re very talented at every position, and they’ve got depth coming off the bench. When they sub, they just don’t lose much.”

This season marks the fourth straight that WKU has played Duke. It’s the first home game for the Lady Toppers in the series since 2008, when WKU fell 59-56.

This year’s Duke (2-0) squad is the highest ranked team to enter Diddle Arena since the Lady Toppers hosted No. 4 Vanderbilt in 2001.

Duke’s backcourt is led by sophomore guard Chelsea Gray, who’s averaging 11 points, six rebounds and five assists this year. Gray played 15 minutes against WKU last season but has burst into a prominent role.

Freshman center Elizabeth Williams leads Duke in scoring (13 ppg) and rebounding (9 ppg), and sophomore guards Chloe Wells and Haley Peters are averaging 12 points and 11 points, respectively.

The Blue Devils opened the season by surviving a 61-55 scare at Brigham Young, then beating Auburn by 23 on Friday.

“They’re long and athletic,” senior forward LaTeira Owens said. “They’re a Duke team. From the past, they run the ball like we do, transition, rebound. I don’t really look at them like they’re No. 8. They’re just another team on our schedule that we need to beat.”

The Lady Toppers are still searching for their first win of the season following a 71-57 loss at Northwestern on Tuesday.

WKU made 7 of 20 free throws in that game. Owens said Friday that each player must make a certain number of free throws to be able to leave practice, and then with a smile, said that number has increased since Tuesday’s loss.

But the Lady Toppers must also take better care of the ball, after turning it over 21 times in each of their first two contests. Duke has recorded 25 steals in two games.

As usual, I’ll post some info here during media timeouts. For more updates, visit http://www.twitter.com/zach_greenwell.

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