The Western Kentucky women’s basketball team visits Arkansas State at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
The Lady Toppers (14-6 overall, 6-3 Sun Belt Conference) are coming off a 72-63 home loss to Texas State. They struggled down the stretch in that defeat, failing to get stops or rebounds in the final minutes.
Here are WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard’s thoughts on Texas State, Arkansas State, finding Chastity Gooch some rest, and finding an emotional leader to replace injured Alexis Govan on the court:
Issues from Texas State loss: “We went back and evaluated, looked at the game. What I said after the game, it didn’t change when I watched film. We didn’t get stops when we needed to. We were right in the position to have a chance to win the game, and what we have to do is make sure we don’t make those same mistakes again. We missed a couple of 50-50 balls at the end, we missed a box-out, they scored two consecutive times, and those things hurt you.”
Importance of road swing: “It’s very important. With the mentality of where we’re trying to go as a program, it’s really important. This past weekend was a big shake-up around the league. A lot of the top teams lost, but at the end of the day, it shows you that on any given day, anyone’s capable of winning. We’ve got to really focus on us.”
Rebounding woes: “The biggest thing that I noticed we weren’t doing was that energy in going after the ball. We stood a lot. We stood and watched, and I had no idea until I went back and watched film how much. When you’re going to be undersized, you have to go after every ball.”
Gooch’s play: “Chastity played 40 minutes – the whole game. We’ve got to try to find a way to get her a blow for a couple minutes here and there before media timeouts. We’re going to really work on that, because she gives 110 percent every time she’s on the floor, and we need her down the stretch.”
Getting Gooch some rest: “I felt like February last year, they were just – we had hit the wall, and we don’t want to do that. We want to keep getting better and be the best we can be. The greatest thing is that Chastity and this team dedicated themselves to getting in great shape. Chastity is in way better shape than she was last year, but she also needs the rest just like everybody else.”
Playing Arkansas State again: “I know the girls haven’t forgot. We were right there. That was a game we should’ve won on our home floor. But Arkansas State, to their credit, they made shots and did the things they needed to at the end. We have to figure out how to finish a game. It’s going to be tougher on the road, but we understand what they’re going to throw at us. … They’re not going to be happy. They didn’t have a good road swing down at Troy, so they’ll be ready to perform on their home court.”
Is team missing Alexis Govan’s energy? “You sit and watch – even in the stands – and you can tell Alexis is still that way on the bench. We miss that a ton. I’m challenging players each and every day to step out of their comfort zone, because she did bring that a lot. That’s something we’ll have to keep working on. I’m challenging them to the point that if I find who that person is, they’re going to play. We need that person on the floor.”