The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team labored through a rough first half Sunday before pulling away for a 65-52 win over Morehead State at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Tops (5-2) got 16 points from junior guard Alexis Govan and 30 points off the bench, led by 15 from senior guard Bianca McGee. They return to action at 1 p.m. CST Saturday at Ball State.
Here are postgame comments from WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard, Lady Topper reserves McGee and Kendall Noble, and Morehead State coach Tom Hodges:
Overcoming sluggish start: “It was definitely a very slow start. I think it’s the sign of growing as a team. You have to continue to be prepared and ready to play each and every day, no matter when it is and what time it is. We came out of the locker room, and we were very flat. They were outhustling us, they were getting loose balls. At halftime, we addressed those things, and I was super proud of the way we came out in the second half. We picked up our defense and were able to get a couple stops in a row.”
Bench production: “We’re seven games into the season, and we’re try to get continuity. … I think the biggest thing for us is we’re trying to continue to get better defensively, because as today showed, that’s going to help us win some ballgames.”
Fouls: “I think the hardest thing for them to get adjusted to now is the hand check. We have to continue working on it and keep preaching about it in practice. What we’re trying to do is put them in game situations in practice. … We have to be able to sit down and guard.”
What does Chanell Lockhart bring to starting lineup? “Defense. Defense and rebounding. Chanell’s been doing really well in practice. She’s been playing well coming off the bench. We’re going to continue to see what we can do rotation-wise with the people we have. We have to do some different things. I think that’s a good thing in having the numbers we have.”
More on bench: “I believe everybody wants to start. If I could start 14 players, they’d be ready to start. It’s only five that can start, and it’s about the continuity of the game plan and the team and your opponent. It is nice to be able to have those three guards. If they can continue to keep getting minutes and getting better – Chaney and Bianca already get it. They’re seniors. Kendall, it’s really refreshing to see, because she’s starting to come back with the flow of her game, and we’re trying to get her to mesh in with everyone else.”
Slow start: “Every team makes a run, and in the second half, we just wanted to focus more on defense. At halftime, she was just getting on us about our defense and our energy, so we wanted to come out and display more energy and better defense.”
Bench players stepping up: “Every day, whether it’s practice or a game, everyone on the team is just as important as the first five out there. If they’re down or need a spark, which normally every team is going to need a spark off the bench, we’re just supposed to be ready when our number’s called.”
Fouls: “With the new rules, you’ve just got to sit down and defend better and move your feet and keep your hands off. Coach gets on us every day in practice when we do a hand check in practice, so we’re trying to adjust.”
On bench play: “It doesn’t really matter who starts, as long as we all come in and do what we can do. Just play hard when we do have the time to play.”
On 23 turnovers: “She didn’t really say much about the turnovers. It was more about the defense. That’s what she was worried about, but I’m sure we’ll hear about it in practice.”
Game getting away in second half: “We wanted to manage the game. We knew how explosive they were in transition. I thought we did a good job handling the 1-2-2 press, and we did some good things. We had about a five-minute stretch there at the end of the first half where we got a little undisciplined, and then the first five minutes of the second half where we kind of broke out of ranks. A lot of that was due to Western Kentucky. They’ve got a good basketball team and certainly offered a lot of resistance to that.”
Fouls: “I told the referees in the game that it’s so subjective. There’s so much contact, but you can’t call all the contact. It makes it very difficult as a coach, that one thing is a foul or a touch is a foul, and on the other end it’s not. That goes both ways. I know it’s frustrating for everybody. All we can do is coach our players up, but it’s going to be a learning curve for everyone.”