The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team (3-10, 1-1 Sun Belt Conference) hosts Louisiana-Lafayette at 11 a.m. Wednesday for its second annual Spread the Red Education Day at E.A. Diddle Arena.
About 2,500 grade-school students, teachers and staff will attend the game for free in a partnership between WKU and the participating school systems.
Students in grades 6-8 will be invited this year, representing the Bowling Green Independent, Warren County Public, Glasgow Independent and Logan County school districts.
The Lady Toppers are coming off a 53-49 loss at Louisiana-Monroe, where they let a 15-point lead with less than 10 minutes left slip away.
Here are some pregame comments from coach Mary Taylor Cowles and seniors LaTeira Owens and Jasmine Johnson:
On Education Day:
“I’m excited for it. I don’t think our freshmen know what to expect, but it’s going to be a good day. There will be a lot of kids there, so we’ll have that crowd energy and momentum.”
On being an underdog:
“We can surprise anybody, but at the same time, we have to make a run from Wednesday until the end of the Sun Belt tournament. We have to prove ourselves for the last two and a half months.”
On Education Day:
“Last year was fun because there were so many kids and it was so overwhelming. It’s a lot of cheering and excitement and a good home-court advantage. I like it, and I know the freshmen are going to like it.They’re going to be a little scared – a little ‘Oh my god’ – but they’ll get it.”
On ULM loss:
“We just thought we had the game because we were up 15. We just let down and went back to their level.”
On what to tell the young players:
“You’ve got to stay positive. I guess now they just think we’re the underdogs, so we’ve got to keep picking them up and tell them we’ll keep getting better.”
Mary Taylor Cowles
On morale after ULM loss:
“They’re extremely disappointed, and they should be. They worked very hard for about 30 minutes in that game, and then we let up at the defensive end. Shots didn’t fall – missed some wide-open shots – but we let that affect our intensity defensively. It’s something to learn from, but you can’t hang your head.”
“They’ve faced some adversity, but at the same time, they continue to play hard and improve. You can see that. They have different people that can shoot from the perimeter and a strong post game, but we have to do things that we do well. We haven’t really put all those kinds of things all together much this year.”
Has this team turned the corner?
“We’re still making several mistakes that we have to get behind us before we can turn that corner. I don’t see the staff having to extra motivate or really pull the energy out of these kids, and that’s a positive thing. It’s not because they don’t care or they wipe off a loss. It’s because they’re eager to get back and improve.”