The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team improved to 8-2 on Sunday with a 60-46 win over Southeast Missouri State at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Toppers led by four at halftime but pulled away late in the second half with a 17-2 run. They now have one fewer win than they totaled all of last season.
Sophomore guard Alexis Govan led WKU with 20 points, while sophomore forward Chastity Gooch, who didn’t start because of a disciplinary issue, had 16 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench.
Gooch’s double-double was her ninth in 10 games this year. As of Dec. 9, Gooch was tied for the national lead in double-doubles.
Junior guard Bianca McGee, a transfer from Kilgore College (Texas), started and added 11 points and 10 rebounds in her WKU debut. McGee was ineligible for the first semester because of an issue with her courseload during her final semester at Kilgore.
Here are postgame comments from WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard and Govan, McGee and Gooch.
MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach
On big second-half run: “We focused on defense. We were getting good shots and missing some in the beginning. We started to make some. Bianca hit a couple and Alexis got on a run, plus Chastity. Defense is going to be so much of the key.”
On SEMO: “They’re a very fundamental team. When we went in the locker room, I told them that they weren’t going to lay down. They were going to be excited they were only down four and come out ready to go.”
On grabbing so many offensive rebounds: “We stressed our guards rebounding, so that’s really important for us because of our size. In previous games, our guards have been running back and we’ve only had two to the boards. We focused on that in practice. When you’re quick, you can get your hands on some balls and get there.”
On McGee’s debut: “I was on her in the beginning because I think she was rushing a bit. This is her first Division I college basketball game, and she’s been waiting. She’s done a great job in practice, so I’m really excited for her.”
More on McGee: “She brings a lot to our program. Again, she was one of the first that believed in what we were trying to do here. I was happy she had a game like she did, and I think it’ll continue to get better.”
On Gooch’s play: “As a coach, it makes you feel good when you’ve got someone you can count on day in and day out. Her focus has been really good. Chastity’s in a mind frame right now where she wants to be the best. Every day, I challenge her.”
On Gooch not starting as disciplinary action: “That was it. We took care of it, and now we move forward. She was ready to go. She’s fine.”
On McGee’s rebounding: “Bianca has a knack for the basketball. When you’re a scorer, you want the ball in your hands. That’s one thing we’re going to expect out of her. Do I know if she can get five or six every game? I don’t know that, but this tells us that we’re going to have another guard that can go in and rebound.”
ALEXIS GOVAN, sophomore guard
Second-half run: “We guarded. We sat down and defended like coach preaches to us. We had to get stops. We got some stops in the first half, but this time we converted them into some points.”
On McGee: “She only gave you a little taste tonight. I could tell Bianca wasn’t Bianca at first. She had a little bit of nerves, but that second half was Bianca. She sat down and defended, she hit some big shots and got to the basket. She didn’t surprise me. She can ball.”
On difference from last year: “We don’t want to lose. That’s our mindset. We’re young, and our young mentality is that we’re going to come out here and find a way to beat people, and we’re going to have a lot of heart. We just fight a little more.”
BIANCA McGEE, junior guard
On getting on the court: “It felt good. It felt really good to be able to play with them in the game – not just practice.”
On dealing with missing first semester: “It was very hard. I’m a transfer, so I only have two years. To hear that I have to sit out half of one year was tough. But that’s just adversity.”
Do you expect to help with rebounding? “After tonight. In practice, she’s always on me about going to the boards. I’m always the one trying to get back even when it’s not for me to get back, but after tonight, I guess they’ll be looking for me to help a little more in that area. I’ll try to meet the challenge.”
CHASTITY GOOCH, sophomore forward
On her play lately: “I just go out and do what I’m told. Rebounding and post up. I go out there with the mentality to do something.”
Did you think you all could have this kind of success? “After believing in coach and the things she told us … we’ve got a pretty good record. We’re a lot better than we were last year. The chemistry on the team is a lot better, and it shows.”