Tops win third straight game with 77-65 win over Tennessee State

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – For a game without a tie and no change of lead, WKU women’s basketball 77-65 victory over Tennessee State kept fans on the pins and needles. The Toppers led the entire game, but couldn’t secure a double-digit lead until the fourth quarter. The Tigers managed to reduce the score to a single possession game with 2:44 remaining, but WKU ended the game with an 11-2 score triggered by eight points from freshman Alexis Mead.

“This group – they’re winners,” said head coach Greg Collins. “They want to win and they want to be champions. They want to be successful at a high level. You can see it not only in this game, but I see it every day in training. I see it when they’re alone at the gym all the time. There are things we need to learn as a team about how to play together.

WKU improves to 4-3 on the season with the win and has won three straight games. The Toppers are also down to 3-1 in EA Diddle Arena this season.

Meral Abdelgawad led WKU in scoring for the fourth time this season with 18 points along with eight rebounds, three steals, one block and one steal. Mya Meredith and Alexis Mead each added 16 points each. It was the first time WKU had three players scoring 15 or more points in a game since a triple 100-99 overtime win over Charlotte last season.

Mead also recorded a career-high six assists and four rebounds. Meredith tied her career high with seven rebounds.

Abdelgawad scored the first nine points of the game for WKU, giving the Toppers a 9-4 lead. The two teams traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter and WKU took a 16-12 lead in the second quarter.

There were 11 combined second-quarter turnovers between the two teams. Meredith scored six points in the period and Hope Sivori scored five straight points to end the quarter to give WKU a 31-25 lead after Tennessee State moved closer to one.

WKU scored 20 points in the third quarter, but Tennessee State faced the Lady Toppers, coming in close to three at 1:41. Once again, WKU scored five straight points to end the quarter and take a five-point lead, this time it was a Jaylin Foster and Mead layup three.

The Toppers opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 streak triggered by back-to-back lines from Mead and Jenna Walker to give the Lady Toppers their biggest lead of the game at 59-45. The score went back and forth until an 8-0 run by the State of Tennessee reduced the WKU’s lead to three. Once again, the young WKU team responded with an 8-0 streak and outscored the Tigers 11-2 in the home stretch. Eight of those 11 points at the end of Mead’s game.

“We are a young team obviously, but we are able to play with maturity,” said Mead. “We all know how to play basketball, it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or not, it’s all about whether you’re a good basketball player. We are able to play with maturity, we are able to take care of the ball and we were able to achieve good runs, especially at the start of the game. It’s something we’ve tried to work on, just trying to get a good start. It is progress, but we are improving every day.

Twelve of WKU’s 26 points in the fourth quarter came from beyond the arc. The Toppers shot just 2 of 8 with 3 points in the first half, but connected for 6 of 16 in the second half, including 4 of 11 in the final period.

The Toppers forced Tennessee State to make 24 turnovers, the second most fouls the Tigers have this season. WKU has forced more than 20 turnovers in five of seven games this season.

“We have learned to stay together as a team. Even though the game warmed up, we stayed together as a team and continued to pick up the pace, ”said Meredith.

WKU will hit the road to face Bellarmine on Thursday, December 2 in Louisville, Kentucky. The Toppers return home on Sunday, Dec. 5 against Tennessee Tech for the final non-conference game at Diddle Arena of the season.

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