Feb. 1, 2017
BOWLING GREEN, Kentucky ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" It was the premier match-up for a decade in the Sun Belt Conference when Louisiana Tech and WKU dominated women's basketball in the league during the 1990s.
Now it's an annual battle in Conference USA.
Louisiana Tech (10-10, 5-4 C-USA) will take the floor of E.A. Diddle Arena Thursday night at 7 p.m. to face WKU (15-6, 7-2 C-USA) in a match-up of longtime rivals. It's a match-up of two of the eight winningest programs in the history of the game with LA Tech No. 2 and WKU No. 8.
Recently, the Lady Toppers have had the upper hand winning five straight in the series although Louisiana Tech still leads overall 26-16. The 43rd meeting will pit a WKU team that is tied for first in the C-USA standings and a LA Tech team that is currently tied for fifth place.
Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr is very familiar with WKU and E.A. Diddle Arena from her days as a player when she led the Lady Techsters to a perfect 9-0 mark against WKU.
"It's always a tough place to play," said Stoehr. "They have great fans, very knowledgeable fans. It will be a great environment. Michelle (Clark-Heard) has done a great job at her alma mater. They have a number of weapons and they can really score the basketball. This will be another great challenge for us, one that we are looking forward to."
WKU is coming in following an 80-77 loss at UTSA on Saturday, a loss that snapped the Lady Toppers five-game winning streak. Reigning Conference USA Player of the Year Kendall Noble leads WKU, averaging 15.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
However, Noble isn't the lone star for WKU. Tashia Brown (13.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and Ivy Brown (13.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg) provide Noble plenty of help as the trio combines to form very difficult match-ups for opponents.
"Noble does a little bit of everything," said Stoehr. "She is so talented. But you can't just focus on her. Both Brown's are difficult match-ups. I think Ivy Brown is really under-rated. They are so well-coached and are an experienced group."
WKU is 10-1 at home this season, the one loss being an early season upset to Texas-Arlington. All five Conference USA wins at home have been decided by 12 points or more.
Louisiana Tech enters the game having won three of its last four and four of its last six, but fell 79-65 at home to Middle Tennessee on Saturday. During the past four games, Tech has ridden the hot hand of sophomore guard Kierra Anthony (two-time LSWA State Player of the Week), who is averaging 20.5 points per game during the stretch.
Anthony (12.9 ppg, 34-75 three-pointers), Jasmine LeBlanc (12.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg), Alexus Malone (10.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Rochelle Vasquez (9.8 ppg, 21-60 three-pointers) and Reauna Cleaver (9.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) are Tech's offensive leaders. However, Tech has gotten some key contributions off the bench in recent weeks from Anna McLeod, Ashley Santos and Daria McCutcheon.
The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on ESPN 97.7 FM and KTKC 92.9 FM with the pregame show starting at 6:30 p.m.