Lady Tops bounce back from Arkansas State loss with home game against Florida Atlantic

Met today with Western Kentucky women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard and sophomore guard Alexis Govan.

The Lady Toppers (12-3, 5-1 Sun Belt Conference), coming off a loss Sunday at Arkansas State, host Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Sunday’s loss was WKU’s first on the road and in league play this season. FAU is 5-0 against Sun Belt competition this year.

MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach

Bouncing back from loss at Arkansas State: “We’re trying to go back to the fundamental things. We turned the ball over. When you turn the ball over 24 times on the road, you’re not going to win. We looked out of sync the whole game. It wasn’t the normal team on the floor, playing and having fun. It looked like we were pressing a little bit.”

Not getting too down over one loss: “I want us to keep reaching higher and higher. I was disappointed with the loss, but I also know that everyone would like to win every game on the road and every game there is. But things are going to happen, and as coaches, we have to put our kids in a better situation.”

On playing FAU: “I think it’s going to be crucial for us to get our defense back in order. We have to guard and know who the best players are. They have an unbelievable post player and kids that can shoot it. I’m really excited we’re on our home floor again.”

Is this week a test of resiliency? “It’s always a challenge to see how they’re going to respond. It’s a different situation because we won seven in a row, but we’re trying to make sure they’re prepared and know we have to take care of our home court.”

On the play of Chastity Gooch: “It’s incredible for her to have as many double-doubles as she’s had. I don’t care who you’re playing and what level, that’s a big deal. I think her focus on being the best that she can be has really grown. When I got here, I challenged her because I watched her all through high school. I talked to her about wanting to be the best post in this league.”

What Gooch is still working on: “I’m challenging her defensively because I think that’s one of the things she needs to do. I know she’s rebounding really well and scoring and running in transition, but I need her to focus more for us defensively so she won’t get in foul trouble.”

Gooch’s need to be motivated: “She’s told me she wants to be challenged. She understands that she gets in her moods where she needs to be challenged. With young kids, that’s always the facts sometimes. I’ve told her I will never let her come to the point where she’s getting complacent or not working as hard as she needs to.”

More on Gooch: “Chastity grew up around here. She knows the history of Western Kentucky and the players that came through here, and I think that’s important to her. She not only wants to help this team leave its mark, but she wants to leave her legacy, and I think that’s why she responds the way she does.”

Progress of posts Ciera Woods and Mariah Sunkett: “Ciera came in and gave us some minutes. She definitely has some potential, but we need to get her in game shape. She needs to work a lot defensively, understanding how fast the game is. With Mariah, she needs to get her strength back and her conditioning. One of Mariah’s best strengths when she got here was being able to run the floor and shoot layups, and we have to continue to help her build to that point.”

ALEXIS GOVAN, sophomore guard

Bouncing back: “We want to show people that what happened at Arkansas State was a one-time thing. We didn’t play well. We didn’t do what we were supposed to, so we want to come out here Saturday and put it on FAU.”

What went wrong at ASU? “We missed a lot of assignments defensively. Coach and them laid out the game plan, and we just didn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t finish plays, we didn’t make plays on defense. It just wasn’t a good night.”

Why Gooch and Govan have improved: “Our teammates expect a lot out of us, and our coaches expect more. Every day, they challenge us. Chastity and I are the type of the players that if you challenge us, we’ve got to meet it and exceed us. Chastity leading the nation, that’s a challenge. They challenged her about double-doubles and rebounds, and she’s stepping up.”

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