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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”