The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team closed Wednesday’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a surge, rallying for a 75-64 win at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Toppers (14-3, 7-1 Sun Belt Conference) finished the game on a 37-15 run after falling behind 49-38 with 13:29 to play.
Sophomore guard Alexis Govan led the way with 25 points and 14 rebounds, while junior guard Bianca McGee added 22 points.
Junior guard Chaney Means added nine points, and sophomore guard Ileana Johnson had a career-high eight points.
Sylvana Okde made six 3-pointers and scored 22 points for ULL (7-11, 1-8), which made 10 of 20 shots from behind the arc.
Here are postgame comments from Govan, Johnson, freshman guard Micah Jones and coach Michelle Clark-Heard:
MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach
Opening statement: “Well, we got out of that one alive. I was really proud of our group in the second half. We didn’t start well, but we fought and did a lot of things differently with change-ups. I’m proud that they stepped up and were able to focus and concentrate, and not get down on themselves.”
Big comeback: “When you’ve got Bianca McGee coming to the bench and telling everybody, ‘Come on, let’s go, we’re not going to lose,’ and Alexis Govan talking in the huddle, I’m looking around as a coach, knowing that’s the positiveness you need. They believe. All they’re looking for is for us to give them direction.”
Trying to find spark: “I was rotating a lot of different people in because I was trying to find a combination that would give us some energy and excitement on the floor. That’s what we’re known for. That’s what we do, and that’s what we bring, and we were a little flat.”
ULL’s 3-point shooting: “I think they shot the ball well, but we didn’t guard the way we should in the first half. We let them get some good, open looks, but when we switched up our defenses and tried to corrected what we were doing, I think it helped out a lot.”
What’s next: “This young team has no quit in them, and I’m proud of them for that. … We’ll go back and watch film and get ready, because we’ve got a big one coming up against Little Rock. Our whole goal is to take care of business here at home. We’re 2-0 during this stretch, and we’re going to try to get the next one.”
Govan and McGee stepping up with Gooch out: “Bianca came up to me at halftime and said, ‘Coach, don’t worry. It’s going to get better in the second half.’ When you’ve got a player that’s that confident and wants to put some things on her shoulder, it helps a lot.”
Play of Johnson: “Ileana was huge for us in the first half. Since the break, Ileana has done an unbelievable job, just coming in practice and getting better. She’s probably one of the quickest guards we have in getting the ball up the court, and she hit some open shots tonight.”
Play of Means: “Chaney’s like our X-factor. Every time we play, she’s doing something great. She gets a charge or makes a big basket. That’s what she does for this team, and that’s why she’s so crucial for this team.”
On UALR: “They’re going to do a lot of adjusting. We were able to score a lot with them not switching screens, and I think they’ll do a lot of different change-ups when they come up here. We’re going to have to take care of the basketball like we did down there, and we’ll have to play our game.”
UALR adjusting: “That’s the fun part. That’s the part about coaching that you work all your years as an assistant for. Now, I’m in this seat, and it’s like a chess match. I have to prepare this team for anything Little Rock will throw at us.”
ALEXIS GOVAN, sophomore guard
The big rally: “We were finally able to play a little defense and push the ball in transition. But mainly, we finally played defensive and turned up the intensity and energy.”
ULL’s 3s: “It was a little frustrating, but we challenged each other that whoever was guarding her was going to sit down and not let her knock down another one. If they did, we were switching, and for the next person, that was their challenge.”
More on ULL: “I think Vanderbilt taught us a lesson about how teams are going to make their run, but we can’t stop. They knocked down shots, and then we came back and made some big ones and got some stops.”
Playing without Gooch: “I looked at her and was like, ‘I can’t believe you have four fouls right now.’ We just all had to step up and take over, and us guards had to rebound a little more and play more defense because we didn’t have Chastity. We adjusted and stepped up to the challenge.”
ILEANA JOHNSON, sophomore guard
Finding energy: “A couple times on the court, we tried to get each other going. I think towards the end, when Chaney got out there and got that steal, we all got into that game. That’s when we really picked up the energy.”
MICAH JONES, freshman guard
On UALR: “They’re a scrappy team. They like to play fast, and they’re really good defensively. But we’ve just got to take care of the ball and play the way we play, and we’ll be all right.”
UALR’s adjustments: “Every team is going to make an adjustment from film, but our coaches are good enough that they’re going to have something right back for them.”