A few thoughts on Lady Tops’ exhibition win

The Western Kentucky women’s basketball opened its season Friday night with a 96-64 exhibition win over Harding at E.A. Diddle Arena.

I had to leave with a little less than eight minutes to play in the first half to cover the high school football playoffs, but I thought I’d share a few thoughts from what I saw and what the box score tells us.

  • The obvious thing that jumps out is that with just eight players in uniform, the Lady Toppers had six players in double figures. They spread the ball around and shot 55.1 percent, including 7 of 13 from 3-point range.
  • Sophomore guard Alexis Govan looked like the standout she can be with 25 points, six steals and three assists. Govan was assertive from the start and gives WKU something it’s needed badly – a guard that can create her own offense. As defenses begin to key more and more on her, Govan will have to work even harder to be effective.
  • Sophomore forward Chastity Gooch looked good in the post with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Gooch showed some good moves and looked strong, although she’ll need to cut down on the six turnovers she recorded.
  • Freshman guard Micah Jones was one of the biggest stars of the night, finishing with 12 points in her debut at the point. She had four rebounds and seven assists with no turnovers. Coach Michelle Clark-Heard praised Jones’ headiness earlier in the week, which the guard displayed with her ability to get others the ball.
  • Guards Chaney Means and Danay Fothergill played their roles well, providing good defense and making a combined 5 of 8 3-point tries. Means, now moved to shooting guard, stayed true to her point guard roots with four assists and two turnovers.
  • The Lady Tops’ two new forwards, Jalynn McClain and Mariah Sunkett, handled their first games well. Sunkett made 5 of 7 shots, and although I’ve heard about it for some time, it still surprised me with just how much havoc her length can wreak on defense. McClain pulled down six rebounds and had four steals, but like Heard said earlier in the week, her offensive game is still  a work in progress.
  • One issue early for WKU was getting back on defense. The Lady Tops were burnt several times early in the game by a quick outlet pass, a problem that Heard quickly worked to correct. Not too surprising for a young team still figuring things out. The Lady Tops had their defensive bright spots, forcing 23 turnovers and holding Harding to 28 percent from the field in the first half.
  • Freshman guard Kendall Noble was on crutches on the bench, and we still await official word on her status from WKU. Rumblings I heard from no one authoritative included worries about a stress fracture, but we’ll wait and see on her progress. I’ll pass along any news I hear.
  • The announced attendance was 762, and while that’s more of the same from recent years, it isn’t so bad considering it was an exhibition and up against a slew of in-town high school football games. We’ll be able to better gauge fans’ interest soon, but as a I said on Twitter last night, WKU is simply going to have to win consistently for an extended period of time before people begin to return to the seats – just ask the football team.

I think that’s plenty for you folks to process for now. The Lady Toppers start the regular season at 5:15 p.m. Friday at Murray State, yet another game that I won’t be able to see in its entirety because of the high school playoffs.

We’ll meet with Heard and hopefully players this week to talk more about Harding and Murray, but for now, here’s a video from WKUSports.com of Heard’s comments after last night’s victory.

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