Kelly, Western Kentucky too much for Lady Bears
Led by the dominant post play of senior All-American Crystal Kelly, Western Kentucky jumped on Missouri State early and cruised to an 82-64 victory in women’s basketball Saturday (Dec. 29) afternoon at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky. The loss capped a 2-9 non-conference slate for Missouri State, its worst start since going 1-8 out of conference in 1985-86.
Kelly, already the Sun Belt Conference’s career scoring leader, converted all 11 of her field goal attempts and 8-of-10 from the charity stripe to finish the contest with 30 points. The 6-3 forward became WKU’s all-time leading rebounder with her first board of the afternoon and captured team-high honors in that category as well with 10 rebounds.
The Lady Toppers scored eight unanswered points to start the game, with the first six coming from Kelly. Missouri State didn’t get on the board until a Maggie Dwyer layup four minutes and ten seconds into the game.
WKU went on to score the next seven points, taking a 15-2 advantage on Kenzie Rich’s three-pointer with 12:48 to go in the half.
The Lady Bears would get no closer than nine points the remainder of the period, as WKU closed the half on a 13-0 run to take a 41-19 lead into the lockerroom. MSU turned the ball over 12 times and connected on just 6-of-29 field-goal attempts, including 1-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc in the ballgame’s first 20 minutes.
Kelly led the way for Western Kentucky in the opening stanza, scoring 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the field, while pulling down eight boards. The Lady Toppers shot 50 percent (15-of-30) from the floor had their way with MSU on the boards, outrebounding the Lady Bears by a 24-17 margin in the first half.
In the second half WKU picked up right where it left off by scoring the first seven points to run its lead to 48-19. Kelly tallied eight points in the first four minutes of the period, as the Lady Toppers stretched their lead to as many as 35 points.
The Lady Bears cut into the WKU lead behind the shooting of Melissa Busby, who drained three-pointers on four straight possessions midway through the half. In all Busby hit seven treys for the second straight game and finished with a team high 21 points.
Dwyer chipped in 10 points and totaled a game-high 11 rebounds, and Marisha Brown added 12 points.
MSU went 17-of-32 (.531) from the floor, including 6-of-11 from three-point range, after intermission to finish the night 23-of-61 for the game. WKU (8-5) improved on its first-half performance, shooting .615 from the floor after the break and .554 for the game.
The Lady Bears will open the 2007-08 Missouri Valley Conference season with a pair of road contests next weekend. MSU will take on Drake in Des Moines at 7:05 p.m. Friday (Jan. 4) before heading to Omaha for a 2:05 p.m. contest against Creighton on Sunday (Jan. 6). Both games will be broadcast live on Mediacom (MCC-14) in Springfield.