Tag Archives: Lady Toppers

Cowles says recruiting for next year not yet complete

Although the Lady Toppers’ season had just ended Friday night, Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles was asked in her postgame news conference what next year might have in store.

And it appears if she has it her way, Western will try to enter next season with a few more new faces.

The Lady Toppers currently have two signees for next year in Georgia standouts Mimi Hill and Chaney Means, but Cowles said that there will likely be more to come.

“I’m very excited about next year’s team,” Cowles said. “I’m excited about what we’re bringing in, but I don’t think we’re finished with what we’re going to bring in as far as recruiting goes.”

Western has even more scholarships available because of the departures of freshmen Lashay Davis and Courtney Clifton this week. The two guards asked for their releases from the program in order to devote more time to academics.

Sophomore Caitlin House also left the team in February, and four seniors will be graduating.

With the additions of Hill and Means, along with Louisville transfer Janae Howard, the Lady Toppers now have 10 scholarship players for next season. Fifteen are allowed in Division I women’s basketball.

 Before House’s departure in February, Western was carrying a 16-player roster, including 15 on scholarship.

-Zach Greenwell

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More on Lady Toppers’ departures

Just got back from the Lady Toppers’ WNIT prep press conference, where we learned that freshmen guards Lashay Davis and Courtney Clifton are no longer with the team.

Head Coach Mary Taylor Cowles released a statement earlier today, stating that both players told her that they wished to pursue opportunities other than Division I basketball.

Here is the statement in full:

“Courtney Clifton and Lashay Davis are no longer members of the Lady Topper basketball team. I have spoken to each of them, and they both indicated a desire to leave the program. Lashay told me she no longer wants to compete at the Division I level and would like to focus on a career in medicine. Courtney told me that she wants to focus less on basketball and also go into the field of medicine. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and hard work to be a member of our basketball program. We thank each of them for their contributions and wish them the best of luck with their future.”

Cowles didn’t have much to add to her statement during the press conference, but did use the phrase “Division I level” quite a bit. No way to know just yet, but her phrasing would seem to imply that Davis and Clifton might continue their basketball careers at a lower collegiate level.

“Each individual that comes in at the collegiate level has a commitment that’s required to be made,” Cowles said. “Obviously the Division I level being that ultimate level, there’s a lot of time, a lot of dedication, and a lot of commitment that’s required for a student-athlete to be able to juggle school and athletics.

“When they asked for their release and had made their decision that they wanted to focus more on their academic career path and had no desire to do it at the Division I level, obviously we’re going to grant that.”

Senior forward Dominique Duck said she was surprised by the announcement but said that it was probably the best decision if the freshmen’s hearts weren’t really in it.

“They kind of wanted to focus on education, which is a big part of going to college,” Duck said. “They wanted to focus on medicine, which is very time-consuming along with trying to keep up with basketball. I just wish them the best with their decision. No matter what, I’m still happy about them and their choice that they made because they made it for the best for them.”

Davis and Clifton’s departures will leave the Lady Toppers (21-10) a little shorthanded as they host Illinois in the first round of the WNIT Friday.

Davis averaged 7.4 points per game as Western’s biggest producer off the bench. She was second on the team in made three-pointers (40) and shot 38.1 percent from behind the arc.

Clifton started the season with a bang, leading the Lady Toppers with 22 points in a home win over Eastern Kentucky. But she only played in 18 games after that, averaging 4.1 points on the season.

Both Cowles and Duck said that junior guard Hope Brown and sophomore guard Vanessa Obafemi would be expected to help fill the void in bench production left by the departing freshmen.

Three players have now left the Lady Topper program this season. Sophomore guard Caitlin House also asked for her release in February.

There has been no word yet from Cowles on whether or not Western will try to fill the scholarship vacancies left by the departures.

-Zach Greenwell

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Former Lady Topper earns NAIA top honor

Former Western basketball player and current Campbellsville University forward Whitney Ballinger was named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association NAIA Player of the Year today.

Ballinger is averaging 21.5 points and 11.6 rebounds per game for Campbellsville this season. The No. 2-seed Lady Tigers (31-2) play LSU-Shreveport Wednesday in the NAIA Division I women’s basketball tournament.

The junior forward left Western in April 2008 after averaging 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game as a freshman. She averaged 11.1 minutes per game that season and played in 31 of 34 games.

  • Two other former Lady Toppers will also be participating in some March Madness.

Austin Peay junior guard Brooke Faulkner and sophomore forward Dalila Thomas – both former Lady Toppers – will try to help the 16th-seeded Lady Govs (15-17) upset No. 1-seed Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Saturday.

Faulkner has averaged 6.3 points per game this season and has played in all of the team’s 32 games, starting 21 of them. She averaged 2.7 points and two rebounds in her two years at Western.

Thomas is averaging 3.9 points and 3.2 rebounds for Austin Peay in 21 games since becoming eligible this semester after her transfer. She averaged 1.6 points and 1.3 rebounds during her year and a half as a Lady Topper.

-Zach Greenwell

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Tickets for Lady Tops’ WNIT game in Diddle available Tuesday

The WNIT pushed it about as close as they could with their “late Monday night” guarantee, but we can now begin to take a closer look at what the 2010 tournament field has in store.

As we said before, the Lady Toppers will meet Illinois on Friday in Diddle Arena.  According to Western media relations, game time is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. but will be officially announced Tuesday.

Western hasn’t played the Fighting Illini since the 2001-2002 season, when the Lady Toppers lost 91-84 in the first round of the WNIT at Illinois.

Illinois began its season 11-4 but has lost 10 of its last 15 games. The Illini are led by 6-3 senior center Jenna Smith, who averages 18.1 points and 11.3 points per game.

Freshman forward Karisma Penn (10.6 ppg) and senior forward Lacey Simpson (9.7 ppg) are also viable scoring threats.

According to media relations, tickets will become available at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, both in person at the WKU Ticket Office and by phone at 1-800-5 BIG RED. Season ticket holders have until noon Friday to secure their same season seats, and other tickets will be available for $6-13.

Students can purchase tickets for $5.

If Western beats Illinois, the Lady Toppers will meet the winner of Marquette/Eastern Illinois sometime between March 20-23.

Western could be in the running to host that game.  If Eastern Illinois wins, the Lady Toppers should get to host as the Panthers drew just over 700 fans for a home game in the Ohio Valley Championship on March 2.

Marquette could give Western a run for its money in the hosting race, averaging 1,565 fans per home game. The Lady Toppers average 1,418 fans at home.

-Zach Greenwell

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Lady Tops will host Illinois in first round of WNIT

The WNIT selection committee added some suspense with a long delay before releasing its bracket, but the 2010 field was just posted on the tournament’s Web site.

The Lady Toppers (21-10) will host Illinois on Friday in the first round. The Fighting Illini (16-14) lost to Ohio State in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on March 5.

The full bracket is available here.

More in a little bit.

-Zach Greenwell

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Lady Tops’ schedule in the NCAAs

Much like Herald Sports Editor Jonathan Lintner did for the men last night, let’s take a quick look at the Lady Toppers’ opponents from this season that are headed to the Big Dance. Here they are:

No. 2 seed, Memphis region: Duke
No. 6 seed, Sacramento region: Vanderbilt
No. 10 seed, Dayton region: Middle Tennessee
No. 11 seed, Kansas City region: Arkansas-Little Rock
No. 14 seed, Dayton region: Louisiana Tech
No. 14 seed, Kansas City region: South Dakota State

For the record, the Lady Toppers went 1-7 against that group this season, grabbing their lone victory over SDSU early in the year.

Kind of surprised to see Sun Belt champion MTSU (25-5) get a 10-seed with an RPI of 19. UALR getting in the tournament was a bit of a surprise, but their 11-seed is even more of a shocker as it seems to indicate that they weren’t even that close to the bubble.

Any way you slice it, it’s a big victory for a Sun Belt Conference ranked 16th in conference RPI to get two teams in the tournament.

-Zach Greenwell

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Lady Toppers get automatic bid to WNIT

Well, that’s why they call it March Madness.

Arkansas-Little Rock ends up getting an unexpected at-large bid to the women’s NCAA Tournament, which means that the Lady Toppers (21-10) will receive an automatic berth to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

UALR (26-6) received an 11-seed and will meet sixth-seeded Georgia Tech in the Kansas City region. The Trojans were projected as one of the “next four out” on ESPN.com on Sunday.

As I wrote this morning, the WNIT field will be released later tonight on the tournament’s Web site. I’ll be back later with more on Western’s trip to the WNIT after the bracket is released.

-Zach Greenwell

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