Leading 55-50 entering the final quarter of play, WKU outscored Southern Miss 26-10 over the final 10 minutes in Saturday’s rematch of the 2017 C-USA Tournament championship game to claim an 81-60 win over the Golden Eagles inside E.A. Diddle Arena.
Ivy Brown led all scorers with 23 points, including a perfect 10-of-10 mark from the free throw line, and also added eight rebounds on the afternoon. Fellow senior Tashia Brown broke the 20-point barrier for the 10th time in her last 11 games with 22 points, and Dee Givens rounded out the Lady Topper trio in double figures with 12 points.
WKU (11-4, 2-0 C-USA) had a strong outing from its bench on Saturday afternoon, outscoring the Golden Eagles 19-4 in that category. Givens netted her 12 points off the bench, and both Sherry Porter and Terri Smith played key roles as reserves for WKU as well.
Four Southern Miss (8-7, 0-2 C-USA) players reached double figures, led by 16 points apiece from Jayla King and Megan Brown. Alarie Mayze notched 11 points for the Golden Eagles, and Shonte Hailes finished with 10 points and a game-high five assists.
For much of the opening quarter, neither side could get an advantage of more than three points. Both sides exchanged the lead several times before a 10-0 run by the Golden Eagles, spanning nearly three minutes, gave Southern Miss a 19-12 advantage. Three-pointers from Hailes and Megan Brown sparked the burst for the visitors and handed Southern Miss a 21-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Golden Eagles maintained their lead until the 3:32 mark of the second quarter, when five unanswered points pulled the Lady Toppers even at 24-24. Terri Smith pulled up from just outside the three-point line for the tying basket as WKU began to find momentum against the Southern Miss defense.
Over the final two minutes of the quarter, WKU tallied nine of the final 11 points to grab control of the game entering the locker room. A “five-point play”, created after Ivy Brown was fouled away from the ball on Whitney Creech’s three-pointer with 1:23 on the clock; ultimately, the Lady Toppers held a 33-28 lead at the halftime break.
Trailing by six points, 40-34, just two minutes into the third quarter, Southern Miss used an 11-4 run to retake a one-point lead. Hailes spurred the run with a three-pointer, and Megan Brown’s layup at the 5:31 mark put the Golden Eagles back on top.
WKU answered with nine consecutive points to retake their largest lead of the day to that point, 53-45, and carried a 55-50 lead into the final quarter of play.
Southern Miss pulled within three points on Megan Brown’s jumper less than a minute into the fourth quarter, but an 11-0 run by the Lady Toppers over the next three minutes put the game out of reach. Ivy Brown knocked down back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to put WKU in front, 66-52, and the Lady Toppers extended their lead to as many as 21 points down the stretch in the 81-60 victory.
WKU will close out its C-USA-opening homestand next Thursday at 7 p.m. as the Lady Toppers battle FIU inside E.A. Diddle Arena. WKU leads the all-time series against the Panthers 28-9 and has won each of the last four meetings; last season, WKU earned a 90-38 victory on Jan. 1, 2017, the fourth-largest margin of victory ever in a matchup of two C-USA teams.
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