WKU basketball: Lady Toppers take on Texas in NCAA Tournament first round


For the second consecutive season, WKU basketball has sent a representative to the NCAA tournament in the form of the Lady Toppers, who are fresh off a record setting season in their first in Conference USA. The 2015 squad became the first C-USA team to win 30 games in a season for the first time in the conference’s history, and with a three-point victory over Southern Miss in the C-USA title game, the conference’s lone representative will take on Texas this afternoon in the #12/#5 game.

While the history between the Lady Tops and Lady Longhorns isn’t a recent one (the teams haven’t met since 1990 season, but did meet in back to back years in 1985 and 1986, both in the Final Four. In ’85, the Lady Toppers brought what would have been the first ever championship season for the Horns to an end, en route to the Lady Tops being denied of their first ever championship, while Texas got revenge the next year, going undefeated and capturing their first ever title.

That was then. This is 2015.

The Longhorns started the year hot, winning their first 13 games of the season, but started Big 12 play on a rocky note, going just 4-8 at one point, mostly because of the loss of leading scorer and rebounder Nneka Enemkpali due to an ACL injury. But, in recent memory, the Horns have won seven of their last nine games and made it all the way to the Big 12 championship game, where they fell to Baylor.

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While the Lady Longhorns are without Enemkpali, they do have a pair of tall ladies; Imani McGee-Stafford, who stands at 6-7, and current leading scorer Kelsey Lang (10 points per game) who stands at 6-5. The Lady Toppers don’t have that kind of size, so this could end up being the downfall.

But, as big a disadvantage UT has in the size department, it’s the guard play that could lead to WKU having a chance. I spoke with Rick Cantu of the Austin American Statesmen as apart of the RedZone Radio show on Wednesday, and he said that the one area in which the Lady Tops have an advantage is with the guard play. So, that’s good, right?

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WKU had to rely on a team without Alexis Govan in last year’s tournament, and luckily, that isn’t the case this year. Govan lead the Lady Tops in scoring in each of the three games played in Birmingham and averaged 20 points in the C-USA tournament, on her way to winning Most Outstanding Player. She, along with the likes of Chastity Gooch, Kendall Noble and Micah Jones, will need to be playing the best game of their season to get the win.

The Lady Tops blew 15+ point leads in each of their three games in Birmingham, and that can’t happen today. As Mr. Cantu said on RedZone, you can throw the seeds out the window – it might be a 12/5 game on paper, but on the court, it’ll just be a great basketball game. The ball tips at 4:00 CT on ESPN2 and the WatchESPN app.