The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team weathered Louisiana-Monroe’s highs and lows Wednesday night, holding on for a 65-63 win at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Toppers (19-7, 12-5 Sun Belt Conference) held ULM to 2 of 18 shooting to the start the game, but the Warhawks shot 48.9 percent the rest of the way and pulled in front midway through the second half.
WKU reclaimed the lead with a layup by guard Alexis Govan and didn’t relinquish it behind the sophomore’s strong play.
She scored a game-high 27 points, including 13 of the Lady Tops’ final 20 after falling behind, and found freshman forward Jalynn McClain for an easy layup with 25 seconds left to provide a needed cushion at 65-61.
Sophomore forward Chastity Gooch had 14 points and 12 rebounds for her 21st double-double this season and first in three games.
McClain added six points and four rebounds, while junior guard Chaney Means finished with two points, a career-high eight rebounds and three assists.
Here are postgame comments from WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard, Govan, Gooch and McClain:
MICHELLE CLARK-HEARD, coach
Opening statement: “We found a way to survive that one. I’m just proud of our kids – their heart and their intensity and trying to find a way to win.”
Is a win a win at this point? “We’re 12-5 in the conference and 19-7, so that’s what you have to look at this time of the year. It’s survive and advance, and every game, you have to figure out how to get that ‘W.'”
How did ULM get back in it? “We kept turning it over. We had possession after possession where we’d turn it over instead of making a good pass. That’s been our Achilles’ heel, but they didn’t get down on themselves at any time.”
Govan taking over late: “I’m so proud of Alexis, how she continues to step up and find a way and find her teammates. I want them to keep having fun and finding a way to win so they can enjoy it.”
Playing Govan and Gooch in foul trouble: “I have to, because of our team and because how our team responds to them, too. It’s really important. I not only look at what they do for us on the floor, but what they do for the team. The team looks up to them. I feel comfortable putting them in those situations. Alexis gets really excited, so we have to be careful with her sometimes, but Chastity’s been really good with that.”
Ciera Woods’ bench play: “Ciera is getting better and better every day in practice. I’m trying to give her a few minutes where she can be successful on the court. I was really proud of Mariah Sunkett today. She had a couple good practices back-to-back. As the season goes, that’s what happens. Different people have to step up at different times.”
Bench stepping up as a whole: “The team gets so excited. Alexis and Chastity get excited for the bench because they know, now they’re getting better and they can come in and help and contribute. Of course they don’t want to get in foul trouble, but when I put Ciera in the game, Chastity Gooch is the first one that’s screaming.”
On Louisiana-Lafayette: “It wasn’t an easy ballgame when we played them here. They shot the 3 well, so we’ll have to sit down and guard. They’ll be ready for us. We’re going to have to go in and have a little more energy than what we had when we went through that little lull here.”
ALEXIS GOVAN, sophomore guard
Coming through with the win: “We got into the huddle and told each other to calm down and stop panicking. We had to get back to the way we were playing at the beginning with a lot of energy.”
Lull in second half: “It came out of nowhere. It just died down, and there was nothing. Finally, we were able to pick it back up, but we can’t do that. We can’t.”
Taking over late: “I was just moving without the ball and letting my teammates find me like they always do. When they did, they called out, ‘Shot,’ and I shot the ball.”
On ULL: “We started off strong with road wins, and we want to finish the same way.”
CHASTITY GOOCH, sophomore forward
How do you stay effective with four fouls: “I try not to make stupid fouls like how I made my first four. Sometimes I have to tell myself to calm down. If I see somebody coming in the lane, I can’t block everybody’s shot. I’ve got to tell myself to lay back a little bit.”
Confidence in team’s bench: “I have a lot of confidence in them. You have to trust your teammates, and I do.”
JALYNN McCLAIN, freshman forward
What is your mindset as one of the main reserves? “Just come out ready to play. They give me confidence to focus and make my layups, so they help me a lot with that.”