Tops of the Sun Belt Moment #27 – Lady Toppers Final Four


Michelle Clark-Heard has been a tremendous hire, and this past year we saw her bring the Lady Toppers squad back to prominence, taking them back to the NCAA Tournament, as well as going toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s best squads, Baylor Bears. If there’s a team that can rival the 1992 Final Four team, it might still be down the line.

Wait, what’s so special about the 1992 team, you might ask? As WKU is continuously growing its fan base (I wasn’t even alive in 1992), one thing that those who know WKU Hilltoppers sports is this – women’s basketball has been a staple on the Hill, and one could even argue the best all around program Big Red has ever seen (no offense to the boys, of course). All of this is signified in looking back at 1992, when the Lady Tops were the national runners up, falling to Stanford in the championship game.

After compiling a 23-7 overall record (and a 13-3 Sun Belt mark), the Sun Belt champions landed the fourth seed in the Mideast Regional, which also featured schools such as Alabama, then-Sun Belt arch foe Louisiana Tech (who the Ladies will rekindle their rivalry with this winter) and Tennessee. WKU got a bye in the first round, handily defeated the Lady Tide 98-68 in round two, escaped Pat Summit and the storied Lady Vols 75-70 in the Sweet 16, and won by the same score over Maryland in the Elite Eight. WKU matched up with another directional school in the Final Four, Southwest Missouri State, and punched their ticket to the title game with an 84-72 win, but ultimately fell to the Stanford Cardinal 78-62 in the final game of the season, despite a double-double by Liesa Lang (18 points and 12 boards) as well as 16 points from Kim Pehlke.

Since that game, the furthest the Ladies have gone is to the Sweet 16, twice (1993 and 1995), but have made the tournament itself nine times, including last year, and consecutive appearances from 1993-95, and then back to back again in 1997-98. We know this is far from the last great chapter in WKU Lady Toppers basketball history, but 1992, as well as 2014, were great chapters during the Sun Belt era. Bring on the Lady Techsters, Old Dominion, Middle and the rest of Conference USA!