With non-conference play behind it, WKU is set to open the 2017-18 C-USA season inside E.A. Diddle Arena at 7 p.m. (CT) on Thursday evening against archrival Middle Tennessee as the Lady Toppers seek their fourth straight victory in the longtime rivalry.
In its last time out, WKU closed its non-conference slate against Division II Lee University, picking up an 88-64 win last Friday. Tashia Brown matched her season-high mark with 30 points on 11-of-18 shooting and Ivy Brown registered her seventh double-double of the year with 20 points and a season-best 15 boards.
Over the last three seasons, WKU holds a 4-1 record over Middle Tennessee and has won the last three meetings in the series inside Diddle Arena. Overall, the Blue Raiders own a 41-29 edge in the all-time series between the close rivals.
Middle Tennessee (8-5) is led by Abbey Sissom’s 14.6 points per game, with only Jess Louro (10.0) joining her in double figures. Louro is also the team’s leading rebounder at a 6.5 per game clip, while Sissom has dished out a team-high 36 assists. The Blue Raiders have won their last two games, including a 62-57 win over Kentucky in their last time out on Dec. 28.
Following Thursday’s bout, WKU will host Southern Miss in a rematch of the 2017 C-USA Tournament championship game inside Diddle Arena on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.
GAME #14 / C-USA GAME #1 – WKU VS. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
WKU (9-4, 0-0 C-USA) vs. Middle Tennessee (8-5, 0-0 C-USA)
January 4, 2018 | 7:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,326)
– As of Jan. 3, WKU is ranked No. 32 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings and has faced three teams in the top 15 in Notre Dame, Missouri and Iowa. WKU is the lone C-USA representative in the top 100 of the rankings, with Middle Tennessee second at No. 112.
– On Thursday evening, WKU will be aiming for its fourth straight win over Middle Tennessee, something that the Lady Toppers have not achieved since also winning four straight against the Blue Raiders from Mar. 1, 2003 through Feb. 26, 2004. A win would also be WKU’s fifth in the last six meetings in the rivalry.
– Since joining C-USA prior to the 2014-15 campaign, WKU owns a perfect 3-0 record in conference openers. Last season, the Lady Toppers defeated Florida Atlantic, 76-55, inside Diddle Arena on Dec. 30, 2016, to open C-USA play.
– Already 12th in program history with 1,638 career points, Tashia Brown is looking to move even further up the charts during her senior season. To move into the top 10 in school history, Brown would need to score 125 more points during her final season on The Hill.
– Tashia Brown leads C-USA and is fourth among all players in the nation with 23.6 points per game in 2017-18. Brown has nine straight 20-point games and has the longest such streak among Division I players this season.
– After knocking down 13 of her last 20 three-point attempts, Sidnee Bopp now leads all C-USA players with her 50.0 three-point field goal percentage this season. Heading into Thursday’s game against Middle Tennessee, Bopp is 22-of-44 from three-point range this season, and her 50.0 percent mark would currently top the program’s single-season charts in the category.
– Through 13 games, Ivy Brown is approaching the top 10 in program history in total rebounds, needing just 33 more boards to break into that group. The Hodgenville, Ky., native is also tied for eighth in school history with 116 blocks and her 79.8 percent mark from the free throw line for her career is sixth among all Lady Toppers who have made at least 200 free throws.
– Through 13 games, WKU leads C-USA and is 11th in the country from the free throw line, going 200-of-258 (77.5 percent) from the charity stripe. The Lady Toppers’ 200 made free throws are tied with Charlotte for the most among all C-USA teams, and WKU has shot 80 percent or better in six games this season.
– After allowing an average of 82.8 points per game across its first four matchups this season, WKU’s defense has buckled down over its last nine games. During that stretch, the Lady Toppers are giving up only 60.8 points per game and have allowed more than 64 points just one time over that same span.
– WKU has been very strong at collecting its own misses this season and has tallied nearly as many offensive rebounds as those on the defensive end. The Lady Toppers have pulled down a league-leading 16.5 offensive boards per game, and Ivy Brown ranks second among all C-USA players with 4.2 offensive rebounds per game. WKU’s 16.5 offensive boards also ranks 14th in the nation among Division I teams.
– Just one week after Ivy Brown tied the program record with 16 points in the third quarter at Southern Illinois, Tashia Brown matched that mark in the third quarter against Toledo on Dec. 17. Brown scored 16 of the team’s 18 points in the frame, including 14 straight points, and outscored the entire Toledo team, 16-13, over the 10-minute span.
– WKU owns an impressive record under Clark-Heard when breaking the 80-point barrier. The Lady Toppers have posted a near-perfect 51-3 mark when scoring 80 or more since the 2012-13 season.
– With five weekly awards (Tashia Brown’s Player of the Week on Nov. 13 and Dec. 18 and Raneem Elgedawy’s Freshman of the Week on Nov. 20, Dec. 4 and Dec. 20) this season, WKU has already exceeded its total from the entire 2016-17 campaign.
– WKU has started a true freshman at least five times in each of the last four seasons. Tashia Brown earned five starts in 2014-15, Kayla Smith drew 31 starts in 2015-16, Sarah Price appeared in the starting lineup five times in 2016-17 and Raneem Elgedawy (13) and Sherry Porter (6) have been consistent starters for the Lady Toppers this season.
Listen: 102.7 FM and 1450AM in Bowling Green (Jevin Redman, pxp; John Butler, analysis)
Watch: Fox College Sports / WKU PBS (Jeff Younglove, pxp; Paul Sanderford, analysis)
Live Audio: C-USA TV (Online Audio)
Live Stats: Courtesy of WKU Athletics
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.
– @WKUSports –
Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications