Hope everyone has all their chores and other obligations out of the way, because in about an hour, WKU will kickoff a full evening of roundball action, as this short 2-game home stint will come to an end, and the Texas State Bobcats will come to Diddle for the first time.
Both Michelle Clark-Heard’s and Ray Harper’s squads have been hot as of late, as the men have won four straight contests (dating back to that thrilling double-OT win over Arkansas State), and MCH’s squad has won 3 straight, receiving their most recent loss on that same day as the Arkansas State game, dropping it by 3 points.
Since then, though, the Lady Tops have been dominant, winning their next three games by scores of 77-73 (okay, so they squeaked that one out), 68-63 (ugh, these scores aren’t really making my case), and a win Wednesday over what Bianca McGee called the “best 1-18 team you’ll see,” (UT-Arlington) by a score of 59-46 (okay, much better).
Alright, so maybe dominant isn’t the word, but they’ve been doing it in a more efficient way than their male counterparts, and staying in the game from wire to wire, not having to claw themselves back into the game from a deep hole.
But I digress, I’ve gotten way too off track.
Texas State (4-3, 7-11) comes into Diddle on Play 4 Kay day to promote awareness for breast cancer, having had full week of rest, playing their last game last Saturday, a game which went into an extra session and saw the Bobcats defeat Troy 87-82. They sit currently in fourth place in the conference, and among their four wins, UALR and ULL are the most impressive.
When looking at the team’s individual stats, there isn’t one player who carries the team on the scoresheet, and that’s what makes them scary – they have a very balanced scoring attack. The team is lead by senior center Ashley Ezeh, who averages 14.1 points per game, along with 5.6 rebounds, and is a frequent starter. The Bobcats have two more players in their starting lineup who score often, sophomore guard Erin Peoples (9.5 ppg) and senior guard Kaylan Martin (7.3 ppg).
Texas State also has four players who average four or more rebounds per game – Peoples (5.8), Ezeh (5.6), junior forward Jacqueline Jeffcoat (4.2) and sophomore center Kileah Mays (4.7). If they have a player who doesn’t get it done in one category, they have someone who can do it in another, and this might prove difficult for the Lady Tops.
Luckily, for WKU, they have reigning Sun Belt Player of the Week and National Mid-Major Player of the Week Chastity Gooch, who is a threat both on the scoreboard and on the glass. Following Thursday’s W, Gooch is averaging 21.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game, after putting up 12 points and boards against the Mavericks.
The second biggest factor for WKU is Kendall Noble, who has stepped up big time in Alexis Govan’s absence. We all know the story – she tore her ACL early in the season last year, and is back now and doing absolute work, averaging 6.9 points and 4.2 boards per contest, and is growing in her confidence with every game. While it’s never ideal to have the preseason Conference Player of the Year go down (in Govan), WKU is more than blessed to have as competent as a replacement that they do in Noble.
This is going to be another closely contested matchup, and will be another great conference clash, as it pits the 2 & 4 teams in the standings. Let’s hope for a memorable matchup, and if we are lucky, we can have a second one in New Orleans.
Stand up and cheers, and wear pink!