Lady Tops blow lead at ULM – postgame comments

BGDN men’s basketball writer Chad Bishop is in Monroe, La., covering both WKU basketball games tonight.

He passed along comments from Lady Topper coach Mary Taylor Cowles and senior forward Teranie Thomas after WKU’s 53-49 loss to ULM in Thursday’s opening contest.

The Lady Toppers led by 15 with less than 10 minutes to play, but lost the lead with a little more than a minute remaining and didn’t have a field goal in the last six minutes and change.

WKU shot 28.3 percent in the game and recorded three assists with 25 turnovers. Senior forward Keshia Mosley led the team with 11 points.

Here are the comments from Thomas and Cowles collected by Chad in Monroe:

Teranie Thomas   

“We didn’t take care of the ball. We didn’t make layups. That’s basically how we lost the game.”       

“I think that our main thing is we didn’t care of the ball, we had way too many turnovers and they basically got layups off that. We need to finish around the basket.”   

“We can’t get down on ourselves. When we go to practice, we need to be more focused on making those layups and going hard in practice so when we get to the game it won’t be so much faster because we didn’t go hard in practice.”

Mary Taylor Cowles   

“We didn’t respond very well to it. They got on a run. Offensively we still had some great looks in our half-court game and our baseline-out of bounds game – we couldn’t connect on layups, some open shots and they got on a roll and just really did some nice things. They went much harder to the offensive glass which we already knew how good of an offensive rebounding team that they were. There in the stretch when they needed it, they just really put forth some strong effort.”

On Fothergill’s final 3-point attempt:

“It’s a play that we have. It didn’t have to be a three, because we were only down two. It was a play that we have – great baseline out of bounds play. She’s a great player. Any other day of the week she’s gonna make that shot. There’s lot of options on that play.”   

“You go back to work. That’s plain and simple. We’re in conference season. We’re back at home now and get to concentrate on being back in Diddle and just simply getting back to work between now and next Wednesday morning.”

Lady Tops prepare for ULM; Fothergill returns

I spoke with WKU women’s basketball coach Mary Taylor Cowles on Wednesday, as the Lady Toppers prepare to play at Louisiana-Monroe at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

WKU (3-9) will be looking to improve to 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play after beating Florida International on Dec. 11.

The Lady Toppers will also be at full strength for the first time in more than a month. Cowles said freshman guard Danay Fothergill, who broke a bone in her foot in late November, will be available against ULM.

Senior forward Keshia Mosley will also be ready to go after serving a one-game suspension Dec. 21 at Texas Tech.

BGDN men’s basketball beat writer Chad Bishop will be covering Thursday’s game at ULM since the Hilltoppers play immediately following the women. For updates from the game, you can follow him at www.twitter.com/MrChadBishop.

Here are a few comments from Cowles:

On ULM center Larrie Williams and guard Elizabeth Torres:

“Even though Williams leads them in scoring, Torres is a great playmaker that knows how to distribute the ball and can also shoot the ball herself. Anytime you have a balance like that, it’ll be extremely important for us to be on our toes.”

On ULM’s strengths, despite 2-11 record:

“Their biggest strengths are their rebounding and their transition. They’re very good at getting the ball out and running the floor, and that includes their posts.”

On returning to conference competition:

“Our season is still doable, despite our record and how bad we’ve struggled in our nonconference. What we want to achieve is still there. We got a good start, but we’ve got to be ready every night in conference play. We can’t show up without our best game.”

On having three practices in two days since Christmas:

“They’ve been very positive. I think the break has good timing, but at the same time, they’re ready to be back.”

Lady Tops lose 75-38 at No. 15 Texas Tech; Mosley serves suspension

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team (3-9) shot 22 percent from the field at No. 15 Texas Tech, while allowing the Lady Raiders to fire 53.7 percent in a 75-38 loss at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

“When we’d get open shots, their reaction to close out was quicker than what we’ve seen,” WKU coach Mary Taylor Cowles said. “I think we were a little rushed on some of our shots, but we had great shots. I don’t really know that I can call out bad shots that were taken.”

No player scored in double figures for WKU, which was paced by senior forward LaTeira Owens’ seven points. Texas Tech (10-0) had 11 players score, with six totaling at least seven points.

The Lady Raiders made 8 of 12 3-point shots in the game. The Lady Toppers missed all 11 of their attempts from behind the arc.

The Lady Raiders outscored the Lady Toppers 19-6 over the final 10:36 of the first half, taking a 35-16 lead into the break. WKU didn’t record its first field goal of the game until nearly six minutes had passed.

“The plays that we have – they work,” freshman guard Ileana Johnson said. “We just have to be able to finish.”

The Lady Toppers return to action Dec. 29, when they travel to Louisiana-Monroe. WKU began 1-0 in conference play with a home win over Florida International on Dec. 11.

“This is behind us,” freshman guard Alexis Govan said. “We’re in conference, and we’ve had a tough schedule. We’ve prepared, and when it comes to conference time, we’re going to be mad. All of the beatings that we’ve gotten, we’re going to take them out on someone else in conference.”

Mosley serves suspension

Cowles confirmed after Wednesday’s game that senior forward Keshia Mosley was suspended for the contest for a violation of team policy.

Mosley made the trip with the Lady Toppers and was on the bench, but not in uniform. Cowles declined to comment on the nature of the rule violation.

“When she’s playing and is consistent and strong, she’s difficult to guard,” Cowles said. “Had she been on her game and been on the floor in uniform, she could have been a very positive influence for us tonight.”

Mosley is expected to return for the Louisiana-Monroe game, Cowles said.

WKU may also have back the services of freshman guard Danay Fothergill, who’s been out since late November with a broken bone in her foot.

Fothergill is ready to go physically, Cowles said, but needs a few more days to return to a practice routine.

Mosley out against Texas Tech for disciplinary reasons

WKU media relations confirmed about 50 minutes before Wednesday’s game at No. 15 Texas Tech that senior forward Keshia Mosley will sit out the contest for disciplinary reasons.

Mosley will be on the bench, but not in uniform. Media relations says she should be back for WKU’s game at Louisiana-Monroe on Dec. 29.

Mosley has been the Lady Toppers’ most reliable reserve, averaging 7.9 points and seven rebounds off the bench. The team is also still playing without freshman guard Danay Fothergill, who was averaging 9.5 points when she broke a bone in her foot in November.

Leading the league: WKU beats FIU 65-48, moves to 1-0 in Sun Belt

For all of the tough losses and the sluggish start, the Western Kentucky women’s basketball team will now sit atop the Sun Belt Conference for more than a week.

The Lady Toppers (3-8, 1-0 Sun Belt) held Florida International to 11 points in the first half Sunday, rolling to a 65-48 win in their conference opener at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The game was the Sun Belt’s first conference contest of the season, and it’ll be the only one until Middle Tennessee and FIU meet on Dec. 21.

Until then, WKU, which hasn’t won consecutive games this season, rules the roost.

FIU’s 11 points were the fewest a Lady Topper team has allowed in a half since Texas-Pan American scored nine second-half points on Jan. 15, 1998.

The Golden Panthers outscored the Lady Toppers 37-34 in the second half, as FIU sophomore guard Jerica Coley racked up 26 of her 32 points after the break.

Coley was 10 of 27 from the field, while the rest of her teammates were a combined 5 of 30.

WKU senior guard Vanessa Obafemi scored a career-high 18 points with five 3-pointers.

The Lady Toppers don’t play again until Dec. 21, when they travel to Texas Tech.

Here are postgame comments from coach Mary Taylor Cowles and Obafemi:

Mary Taylor Cowles

Opening statement:

“I don’t know if it was our defensive intensity that sparked our offense or if it was our good shooting that sparked our defense, but … we picked a great time to piece it all together. It’s been a hard week, but our ladies came in with a purpose and understood what opening conference play meant.”

On what clicked in the first half:

“Our zone was very effective. We had a lot of energy and rebounded the ball really well. We executed our offense really well and moved the ball. When you’re firing on all cylinders like that and able to put both ends of the floor together, it typically ends with some good things.”

On FIU’s late run:

“I didn’t really like the way the game ended with their pressure extending and the way we handled it, but at the same time, I liked that we had to handle it and find a way to deal with it. We did exactly that.”

On getting a second chance in conference play:

“Our young ladies have endured a lot through this adversity in our nonconference schedule. We lost some games that we should not have and had some things that we simply haven’t done well, but they’re smart and knew this conference season opened up a new opportunity for them.”

On Obafemi’s play:

“She is a good shooter, and we saw that all last year. You also have to give credit that it’s a senior stepping up for you, and it also shows how much it means to Vanessa. With her stats today, that’s Vanessa’s way of stepping up and doing her part.”

On FIU guard Jerica Coley:

“I don’t really know what you do with Coley, to be honest. We spent a lot of time talking about her, and she’s just a phenomenal player. There are other very good basketball players on their team, so I don’t know if we knew a way to shut her down. In all the film we’ve watched, I don’t think I’ve seen her be shut down. We knew that we could not let other people step up and have big nights if we wanted to be on the winning side.”

Vanessa Obafemi 

“These past couple of days, we’ve been talking about starting a new season with conference play. We wanted to get that first win.”

On her own play:

“My teammates really believe in me. They’re really confident in me, and that helps me during the game.”

On stopping Jerica Coley:

“We’ve been focusing a lot on defense. We knew we had to stop Coley, and in the first half we did. She stepped up in the second half, and we knew we had to get stops to win.”

“Our original plan was to shut her down. In the second half, she took over. She made some tough shots and even penetrated through the zone. She’s a great player.”

On FIU’s second-half press defense:

“Coach said we needed that pressure to work on our press offense. We learned today that we needed that.”

On what lies ahead:

“We need to work on being consistent. We can’t play good one game and then let down the next game. We have to carry this over into our next game, which is a while from now, but we’ll be ready.”

A look at the numbers: How the Lady Tops compare

The Lady Toppers (2-7) visit Illinois State at 7 p.m. tonight, a game that will be broadcast on ESPN3.com for those that want to watch.

I spent some time Friday afternoon looking at WKU’s statistics, checking to see how they measure up to the rest of the Sun Belt Conference and the country.

There are some positives in this stuff, as well as some very concerning numbers. Here’s a look at all of it:

SCORING OFFENSE – The Lady Toppers are tied for seventh out of 12 teams in the Sun Belt in offensive output, averaging 58.1 points per game.

SCORING DEFENSE – Ranked 11th in the Sun Belt, allowing opponents to score an average of 69.8 points per game.

3-POINT SHOOTING % – Ranked second in the Sun Belt, shooting 36.1 percent from 3-point range. As of Dec. 4, that ranked 41st in the nation.

3-POINT SHOOTING DEFENSE – No secret that this has been a weakness for the Lady Tops. They’re tied for 10th in the Sun Belt while allowing teams to shoot 38.6 percent from behind the arc, but no team in the conference has given up more 3-pointers (66). As of Dec. 4, that had them ranked 328th out of 336 Division I teams nationally.

REBOUNDING – WKU is third in the SBC in rebounding, pulling down 43.7 boards per game. The program leads the league in rebounding margin and is ranked 22nd in the country in the same category.

TURNOVERS –  The Lady Toppers are ranked last in the Sun Belt in turnover margin, committing more than seven miscues more per game than their opponents. As of Dec. 4, they were ranked 332nd out of 336 teams in the same category.

INDIVIDUAL NUMBERS – The Lady Tops have no players in the top 15 in scoring in the Sun Belt, although senior forward LaTeira Owens comes in at 17th with 10.4 points per game. Owens is also third in the league and tied for 52nd nationally in rebounding (8.7). Senior forward Keshia Mosley is second in the SBC in offensive rebounds behind MTSU’s Ebony Rowe.

I’ll try to have some postgame comments from coach Mary Taylor Cowles and players after tonight’s game at Illinois State.

Lady Tops beat Louisiana Tech: postgame comments

The Lady Toppers (2-6) never trailed in a 69-54 victory over rival Louisiana Tech on Monday, claiming their first home win of the season in the 29th annual BB&T Classic at E.A. Diddle Arena.

The Lady Toppers treated the Louisiana Tech game as a rivalry week of sorts, as the coaching staff shared stories from previous games in the series. Former player and current graduate assistant Kenzie (Rich) Pharis even put together a rivalry highlight reel for the team that was played after Monday’s pregame meal.

Freshman forward Chasity Gooch, a Franklin-Simpson product, scored a game- and career-high 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting in her first career start, adding a team-best nine rebounds.

Eleven players recorded minutes for WKU and nine scored, as the Lady Toppers racked up 29 points off the bench.

The reserve production was paced by senior forward Keshia Mosley, who had 12 points and nine rebounds in 17 minutes. Freshman guard Ileana Johnson added six points and seven assists in 29 minutes.

WKU shot 48.1 percent in the second half and made 6 of 11 3-pointers in the game. Gooch scored 11 of her 19 points in the second half.

Senior guard Obafemi finished with 10 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Chaney Means scored nine points on three 3-pointers and pitched in four assists.

WKU will turn around quickly to play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Tennessee Tech.

Here are some postgame comments from WKU coach Mary Taylor Cowles, Gooch and Means:

Mary Taylor Cowles

On getting the win:

“Well that definitely feels good.”

“It’s been by far the best four days of practice we’ve had all year. Our challenge to them was to carry over what we’ve been able to accomplish in practice to the game, and I thought we did that.”

“The rivalry between us and Louisiana Tech is fun. It’s part of what women’s basketball is all about, so I’m sure that made it a little bit sweeter.”

On getting good distribution:

“We know it’s going to take everybody on every night for us to get to the end of the season and be where we want to be. This isn’t a team that’s dominated by one or two players. This has to be a team effort.”

On the play of Gooch:

“Nothing’s surprising to me or her teammates. She’s a very talented individual. She can score in a variety of ways, rebounds well, can handle the ball on the perimeter and can post up like we did tonight. She’s very savvy with the ball in her hands.”

On Means playing with a broken nose and face mask:

“I can only imagine how frustrating that injury has been. But she hasn’t used that as an excuse.”

On freshman Ileana Johnson:

“She played 14 minutes in that game and was a totally different young lady ever since. (Ileana) is an extremely good ball-handler. She doesn’t get scared or shook when the pressure comes, and she demonstrated that.”

Chaney Means

“We definitely need this win. Getting our first home win for our fans here is a big deal. We had fun tonight. It’s hard losing six games and only winning one and coming in every day to work just as hard in practice.”

On Gooch:

“She had the chance to start tonight, and she took advantage of it. It shows the kind of player that she is, that she didn’t crumble under pressure when we needed her to step up.”

On playing so soon after surgery:

“I honestly didn’t even know how much playing time I’d get tonight. Coach gave me a chance, and the other players made it easy for me to come in and not make there be that pressure.”

On momentum:

“Having this win going into it, now we have a taste. We’ll gain from that and keep going. I’m sure we’ll go in tomorrow and be excited to have another shot Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”

On treating Louisiana Tech as a rivalry:

“I think it got us pumped up for the game and let us know about the rivalry because most of us haven’t really been a part of that. We could tell it was a big deal to the coaches, and that made us want to play hard.”

Chasity Gooch

On her own play:

“Tonight we noticed a mismatch between me and the guard, so Coach told me to post up. That’s what I did. It felt great. Everybody got into the groove. It wasn’t just me.”

“Hopefully tonight motivates us to keep winning, to keep going hard, to keep playing like we did. Hopefully we keep it up.”