Lady Topper Basketball will begin a new era on Thursday evening at 6 p.m., taking the court for the first time under Head Coach Greg Collins after he previously spent six years on the bench as an assistant coach; WKU is set to battle West Virginia State in its lone exhibition matchup of the season.
Admission for all fans for Thursday’s game will be free, and parking for the game will be free in both Parking Structures 1 and 2 next to E.A. Diddle Arena. Season tickets for all ticket holders have been mailed and should be received shortly.
Picked fourth in the preseason C-USA coaches’ poll behind UAB, Rice and Middle Tennessee, WKU graduated two of its all-time great players in Tashia and Ivy Brown following last year, but also returns the 2018 C-USA Freshman and Sixth Player of the Year, with Raneem Elgedawy and Dee Givens set for key roles in 2018-19.
Transfers Alexis Brewer and Arame Niang, who sat out last season, are finally eligible for the Lady Toppers, as is graduate transfer Jae’Lisa Allen, who will bring depth and experience as a post player.
New freshmen Kallie Searcy and Meral Abdelgawad will also be making their E.A. Diddle Arena debuts. Abdelgawad, a former teammate of Elgedawy on the Egyptian national team, is set to join Niang as only the fifth and sixth international players to letter for the Lady Toppers.
WKU will open the regular season next Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. as the Lady Toppers welcome No. 5 Louisville into Diddle Arena for an in-state rivalry clash.
EXHIBITION GAME #1 – WKU VS. WEST VIRGINIA STATE
WKU (0-0, 0-0 C-USA) vs. West Virginia State (0-0, 0-0 Mountain East)
November 1, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– WKU has won 34 consecutive exhibition contests and owns a perfect 7-0 mark in such games since Greg Collins has been on staff. Last season, Elgedawy had 20 points and 14 rebounds in her WKU debut and the Lady Toppers defeated Union (Tenn.), 101-58, on Nov. 2, 2017.
– Following the departure of Jevin Redman, new play-by-play man Brett Williams is set to make his debut for WKU on Thursday evening. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Williams joins the Lady Toppers from Queens University in Charlotte, N.C., and brings extensive broadcasting experience at the collegiate level.
– The Lady Toppers were picked fourth in the preseason C-USA coaches’ poll, but have met or exceeded their expectations in each of the last two years. In 2016-17, WKU won the tournament title after being picked first, and repeated as champions in 2017-18 after a second-place pick.
– To start the regular season, WKU is projected to play three preseason top-15 teams in its first six games, battling against No. 5 Louisville, No. 13 Iowa and No. 8 Oregon State. Central Michigan is also receiving votes in the preseason AP poll.
– Over its first four seasons as a member of Conference USA, WKU owns a 59-11 mark against the rest of the league since joining and posted a 12-4 record last season.
– WKU put together an 11-1 record inside Diddle Arena last season and has posted a 74-12 record inside the friendly confines of its home arena since Greg Collins has been with the program in 2012-13. The Lady Toppers enter the 2018-19 season with an 11-game winning streak on their home floor dating back to Nov. 30, 2017, last season.
– For the first time since the 2010-11 season, WKU will welcome two Power 5 programs to E.A. Diddle Arena. That season, the Lady Toppers hosted Northwestern and Texas Tech, and this year both Louisville and Iowa will make the trip to Bowling Green.
– WKU enters the 2018-19 season having had only six international letterwinners in program history, including sophomore Raneem Elgedawy. This year, the Lady Toppers will sport three international student-athletes on the roster, with Arame Niang and Meral Abdelgawad joining Elgedawy on The Hill.
– Since becoming a member of C-USA prior to the 2014-15 campaign, WKU has posted a 33-2 record against conference foes inside Diddle Arena, never losing more than one game in a single season. The Lady Toppers currently own a 19-game home winning streak in conference play dating all the way back to a 62-51 win over Middle Tennessee on Feb. 25, 2016.
– In its four seasons as a C-USA member, WKU has claimed a pair of regular season titles and has won the conference tournament three times, including back-to-back wins in both 2017 and 2018. WKU is only the second school in C-USA history to claim back-to-back tournament titles as a league member, joining former member Tulane, who won three straight from 1999-2001.
– Among its returning players, WKU was 109-of-317 (34.4 percent) from beyond the arc last season, a number that would sit just outside the top 10 single-season percentages in school history. In addition, the Lady Toppers will add Alexis Brewer into the mix. A dangerous sharpshooting threat, Brewer was 58-of-143 (40.6 percent) in two seasons at West Virginia, ranking second in the Big 12 in percentage as a sophomore in 2016-17.
– WKU sits only 16 wins shy of a huge milestone in program history, entering the 2018-19 season with 984 wins. In the history of Division I women’s basketball, only nine programs have collected 1,000 total wins. WKU (984), Green Bay (983), Maryland (972), South Dakota State (967) and Notre Dame (964) are all within striking distance of joining that exclusive club this season.
– One of the top three-point shooters in program history, Sidnee Bopp heads into her senior season on The Hill with a career 40.1 percent (81-of-202) mark from beyond the arc and has shot better than 40 percent in each of the last two years. Bopp’s career percentage ranks fourth in WKU history, and the Marmaduke, Ark., native will be chasing Kim Pehlke’s program record of 41.6 percent (209-of-502) this year.
– With the release of the preseason AP poll on Oct. 31, WKU appears slated to play at least three ranked opponents in its first six outings this season, with a fourth (Central Michigan) receiving votes in the poll. Should WKU face three ranked opponents, it would mark the second time in the last three seasons that the Lady Toppers have done so. In 2016-17, WKU battled Indiana (#23), DePaul (#18) and Louisville (#8) in the regular season before drawing Ohio State (#11) in the NCAA Tournament.
– In each of Greg Collins’ six previous years on WKU’s bench, the Lady Toppers have had 20 or more victories, with the team looking to extend that streak in 2018-19. WKU’s current streak of six 20-win seasons is its second-longest in program history, trailing only seven straight from 1982-83 to 1988-89 during the Paul Sanderford era. In WKU’s modern era (since 1973-74), five of the 10 head coaches have captured 20-win seasons in their debut years on The Hill, most recently with Michelle Clark-Heard’s 22 wins in 2012-13.
How to Follow the Lady Toppers: For complete information on WKU Lady Topper Basketball, visit WKUSports.com or follow the program via social media @LadyTopperHoops on Twitter, @LadyTopperHoops on Instagram and on Facebook at facebook.com/WKUWomensBasketball.
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Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications