The Western Kentucky womens’ basketball team opened a new era under first-year coach Michelle Clark-Heard on Friday with an 80-69 win at Murray State.
The Lady Toppers (1-0) earned the first non-conference win at an opponent’s home court since Dec. 28, 2009, and the first season-opening win in the last three tries.
WKU is also over .500 for the first time since March 2010.
Sophomore guard Alexis Govan led the Lady Toppers with a career-high 26 points, while sophomore forward Chastity Gooch had her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Freshman forward Jalynn McClain added 14 points and seven rebounds for WKU, while freshman guard Micah Jones had 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists. The Lady Toppers had six players grab at least four rebounds.
Jones and McClain played 38 and 36 minutes, respectively, in their first collegiate regular season game and were a combined 10 of 18 from the field.
The Lady Toppers start their regular season home schedule at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 17 against Northern Kentucky in the 30th annual BB&T Classic game at E.A. Diddle Arena.
I wasn’t at the game because of the high school football playoffs, but I did talk with Heard after her first career win. Here’s a little of what she had to say:
MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach
On starting her career 1-0: “It’s just awesome. To have the opportunity to be the coach year is a big deal for me, and to get the first win on the road is great. We talk about our numbers and our size, but our kids played their hearts out.”
On jumping out to a big lead: “I wanted us to take it at them first. We started out in our press, and I wanted to turn the heat up early to see how they’d handle it. We did really good in our press, and that set the tempo for us.”
On who stood out: “Micah played unbelievable, and Jalynn stepped up huge. Alexis hit some huge shots – everybody played well. It was a great team effort.”
On getting a confidence boost: “We talked about the opportunity to start 1-0 and come back for a few games. It’s a great night for Western Kentucky.”