The Lady Toppers beat Louisiana-Monroe 66-50 on Saturday, advancing through the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Hot Springs, Ark.
WKU will play top-seeded Middle Tennessee at noon Sunday in the quarterfinals. That game will be televised locally on WKYU.
Here are postgame comments from the Lady Toppers, per BGDN writer Chad Bishop:
Mary Taylor Cowles
“At this time of year, it’s about ‘survive-and-advance’ and that’s what these young ladies did. I’m really proud of them for that. They remembered, even though it was a little bit over two months ago, they remembered our game at Monroe during the regular season and the fact that we just simply didn’t finish a 40-minute game. Today I thought they were very focused and very in-tune to the fact that we’ve gotta put 40 minutes on the floor. Big win for us.”
Up-tempo game: “We just felt like that could be a positive for us against them. Our young ladies just kinda bought into it. I think they kinda are an up-tempo team. I think these two young ladies right here (Alexis Govan and Chastity Gooch) are really a prime example of what we’re able to do, going faster up and down the floor. Our young ladies just bought into it in the preparation of getting ready for Monroe. That’s a huge compliment to them.”
Bench play: “They were big. They kept us in it and that’s what you need this time of year. You’ve got to put it all out there. You’ve got to give it your best shot, if you don’t and it’s over then it’s over. Again, I think these ladies understood that and our bench really stepped up. That’s just what you gotta have. When you’ve got people making plays and you’ve got people taking advantage of opportunities to play, that’s makes coaching really a lot easier.”
Team’s sense of urgency late: “I think that’s when LaTeira really stepped up and made a couple big shots. I think coming out of the media timeout, the last media timeout, I believe she was going to the free throw line. Did she hit both of those? I know she hit one? Yeah, she hit both of those and then I think she scored on two additional possessions after that. That’s what you want your all-conference player to do. That’s what you want your seniors to do is step up and make big shots and she did that. I just think we were big right there. Chas (Gooch) had a nice shot in transition, I think Alexis had a nice shot in transition, she hit LaTeira, LaTeira hit her right back on a nice pass underneath. We made shots, we made plays, we didn’t fold, we didn’t lay down at that point. We just stayed very, very composed. Making shots help you win ballgames.”
Bench play: “Well we were very pleased, but I think big play by Chastity Gooch has been really good for us, especially late in the season. I think our team, our staff were very confident in putting Chastity out there on the floor with her ability – and just how confident she’s been playing. Obviously, she didn’t let us down, she stepped up, played really, really big. She rebounded – I thought Chastity’s rebounding and Jasmine’s in the first half were a huge key and why we were able to play so well in the first half. They were both very, very aggressive and strong on the boards.”
Stopping Elizabeth Torres: “I think just switching up our defenses and I think we learned some things on film watching them against some zone. We felt like we learned some things that really limited them, too, and took away from them and that penetration was one of those things. I felt like our young ladies just really bought into it. We’ve been playing more zone lately. It’s been pretty good to us. I think our young ladies just, when they watch the film and they prepared for Monroe, they saw how beneficial that could be. I think that’s one of things that it did. There at the end, they started getting some because we started switching back to man some. I think that’s when she’s really, really good, when you give her the opportunity to come off the dribble like that.”
Govan: “Well I think you’ve just seen here calm down the last two or three games of the season and just kind of take a deep breath. We talk about freshmen no longer being freshmen, I think these two (Govan and Gooch) have demonstrated that they belong at this level and they’re just starting to play their game. Coach (Latrice) Mclin and Alexis had a nice, long talk about a week-and-a-half ago and Chas and I have continued to talk throughout the season and over the last week-and-a-half, two weeks. They just realized that it’s time to take a deep breath and relax and that’s what these two have done. They’re very, very nice basketball players. I think coming into the Division I level I think they’ve held back a little bit. I think they realize how much our team needs them to just kinda let loose and play the game that they’re very capable of playing. That’s what we see both of them doing.”
MTSU: “Well, they’re a very good basketball team. I think we’re gonna have to play extremely consistent. We can’t be inconsistent, which is what I think we were from the first time to the second time. We’ve got to handle the pressure. They’re gonna bring it, everybody knows that about Middle Tennessee, lots of pressure. They’re gonna extend it out all over the floor. And then they’re just very, very deliberate and very, very good at the offensive end. We’ve got to be as disciplined defensively as they are offensively. They’ve got several offensive factors and so you can’t really key on just one or two people on their team because they are so spread out with the way they can go about putting points on the board. It’s gonna have to be a very consistent game for us, for 40 minutes at both ends of the floor.
Turnovers: “Something we’ve done all year. We continue to turn the basketball over and I think that was the glaring factor in the game on Sunday against Middle. We just lucky tonight that we hit shots at the other end when we did get the ball in the halfcourt. That, obviously, was a huge factor in Sunday’s game against them. We’ve gotta do a much better job of taking care of the basketball.”
Your game: “All I thought about before the game is I want the seniors to go out with a bang. I didn’t want this to be their last day or last time in a uniform. I just keep telling myself it’s about the seniors.”
Key to the win: “Making sure they were one-and-done on the boards and communicating and rotating and just not stopping, keeping it up, up-tempo and sprinting to our spots.”
MTSU: “Every game against Middle is a big game because of the rivalry. (Sunday), it’s another game. We just have to come out with the same mentality we did today and just handle our business.
The first meeting: “I don’t think the game before crossed our minds at all because coach Cowles tells us all the time that teams are gonna makes runs, we just have to make runs back. I don’t really think it crossed anybody’s mind.”
First meeting vs. ULM: “We’ve learned when we have a lead to keep it, to maintain the ball, don’t get turnovers.”
First meeting vs. ULM: “When we came here we knew this was a new season. Like (Govan) said, it never crossed our mind.”