Coming off its first road trip of the season, WKU will be back inside E.A. Diddle Arena on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. as the Lady Toppers welcome No. 13/17 Iowa for a rematch of last season’s 104-97 overtime thriller in the Hawkeye Challenge that the Hawkeyes claimed with a late rally.
For the second time in as many games, WKU staged a fourth-quarter rally in its last time out at Oklahoma on Friday, closing an 18-point deficit to single digits in the 90-83 setback. Four Lady Toppers reached double figures, led by Dee Givens’ career-best 21 points.
After missing the season opener against Louisville, Arame Niang made her debut for WKU against the Sooners, tallying 12 points in just 16 minutes while flashing her scoring ability from deep, knocking down a pair of three-pointers.
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.
WKU will round out its second week of play on Saturday afternoon at Noon (CT) as the Lady Toppers head north to battle 2018 Sweet Sixteen participant Central Michigan.
GAME #3 – WKU VS. NO. 13/17 IOWA
WKU (0-2, 0-0 C-USA) vs. No. 13/17 Iowa (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
November 13, 2018 | 6:00 p.m. (CT)
Bowling Green, Ky. | E.A. Diddle Arena (7,523)
– Since Greg Collins has been on staff, the Lady Toppers have battled 12 ranked opponents, coming away with a victory over one in each of the last three seasons. Tuesday’s game will already mark the second time this season that WKU has battled a ranked opponent, with the first coming in the season opener against Louisville last Tuesday.
– After winning C-USA Sixth Player of the Year last season, Dee Givens has stepped up in a big way for the Lady Toppers, moving into the starting lineup and averaging 19.5 points against a pair of Power 5 opponents in Louisville and Oklahoma to start the season. Through two games, Givens is averaging a point every 89 seconds that she is on the floor.
– Despite its rally falling just short at Oklahoma last Friday evening, WKU scored its most points in a single quarter since moving to the system in 2015-16, netting 35 points in the fourth frame against the Sooners. The 35 points were WKU’s most since setting the previous record of 33 points in the fourth quarter against Dayton in the WNIT on March 17, 2016.
– WKU’s defense pressured Oklahoma into 26 turnovers on Friday evening, scoring 20 points off those miscues. Through two games, the Lady Toppers have forced an average of 22.5 turnovers against a pair of Power 5 opponents after also forcing 19 against Louisville last Tuesday.
– Through two games, Raneem Elgedawy and Meral Abdelgawad have combined to score 47 of WKU’s 163 points, just under a third of the team’s total. In addition to their scoring, the duo has combined for 24 rebounds, also just under a third of the team’s total of 73.
– 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 74-13 record inside the friendly confines of its home arena since Greg Collins has been with the program in 2012-13. The Lady Toppers had their 11-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday evening’s setback against Louisville inside Diddle.
– 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 five 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.
– 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.
Listen: 102.7FM, 1450AM in Bowling Green (Brett Williams, pxp; John Butler, analysis)
Live Stream: ESPN3 (Jeff Younglove, pxp; Paul Sanderford, analysis)
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