LITTLE ROCK - The
Trojans rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to take the lead, but a late
push by the Hilltoppers gave Western Kentucky (12-2, 5-0 Sun Belt) the 78-69
win over UALR (10-3, 3-2 SBC) in a crucial Sun Belt interdivisional tilt
Thursday night (Jan. 3).
UALR outshot Western Kentucky 52.8 to 42.9 percent, but it
was the Hilltoppers' 35-27 edge on the boards that proved to be the difference.
Western Kentucky also had an advantage on the offensive glass (12-6) and in
second chance points (14-7).
Individually, UALR sophomore Kiera Clark missed only one shot from the field (9-10) while making
both attempts from the charity stripe for a career-best 20 points. Junior Taylor Ford added 15 points, eight
rebounds and six assists while classmate Hannah Fohne chipped in 13 points and eight boards.
For Western Kentucky, Chastity Gooch scored a game-high 23
points and recorded nine boards. However, it was only the second game in 14
attempts an opponent held her without a double-double. Alexis Govan added 18 while
Micah Jones contributed 12. Bianca McGee came off the bench for 12 points and
As a team, Western Kentucky made 26-28 from the charity
stripe for the game.
Clark scored the first eight points for the Trojans as UALR
broke out to an early 8-4 advantage. WKU's Jones hit a three-pointer at the top
of the arc to cut it to one, but Fohne grabbed a senior Janette Merriex triple miss and Clark found Merriex for a
three-point make for the UALR 13-7 lead six minutes into the contest.
A 9-2 run late in the second half pushed the Hilltoppers to
the 34-25 lead, the largest first half-deficit the Trojans have faced all
season. Gooch started the run with back-to-back lay ups followed by four-straight
from the free throw line. Sophomore Taylor Gault stopped the two-minute UALR scoring drought with a lay-up, but McGee
knocked down a triple to put the visitors up nine with 4:41 left until
intermission. UALR cut it to three on a pair of free throws from Gault with
nine seconds before half, but McGee hit a jumper at the buzzer to put Western
Kentucky up 38-33 heading into the locker room.
A 5-0 spurt from Gault herself to begin the second half,
capped by a three from the right free-throw line extended, tied the game only
two minutes into the second half. Western Kentucky held a slim 51-48 advantage
before Gault threaded the needle inside to Fohne to cut it to one. Gault stole
the ball just seconds later and raced to the hoop to give UALR the 52-51 lead
with 10:18 left, its first lead since the 8:23 mark of the first half.
Both teams were tied five times in the next six minutes with
UALR unable to build more than a one-point lead. The Hilltoppers took a 62-59
lead before a Fohne layup and a split from the line tied the ballgame for the
11th time of the night with 3:46 left. Western Kentucky responded
with a 10-0 run, thanks in part to a 6-6 stretch from the line to go up 72-62
with 46 seconds left. In the final four minutes, the Hilltoppers used a 12-12 mark
from the charity stripe in claiming the 78-69 win.
UALR looks to end its two-game SBC slide Saturday (Jan. 5)
when it travels to Troy, Ala. to tangle with Troy for the second time this
season. UALR knocked off Troy 75-52 in Little Rock on Nov. 29, 2012.