Muscle and hustle are prized qualities in women’s basketball, and Western Kentucky brought more than a little of both to the table Friday.
In the opening round of the WNIT, Western Kentucky took control early at home and never gave cause for doubt in posting a 93-57 victory against Central Arkansas, as Bria Gaines led the way offensively with a career-high 22 points. The Lady Toppers (1-0) advance to the quarterfinals and will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Colorado and North Dakota; the Sugar Bears (0-1) will play Nov. 21 in the consolation round.
Sophomore guard Kendall Noble had it going in multiple categories and wrapped up a busy night with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Conference USA preseason player of the year Chastity Gooch added 14 points and six rebounds, and the Lady Toppers kept the visitors in check on the boards, holding a 44-22 advantage by the final buzzer. The home team had 23 offensive rebounds.
Western Kentucky ran wild in the first half, scoring 51 points. Central Arkansas did get 10 points in the half from sophomore guard Maggie Proffitt, but she also had three fouls. Proffitt finished with 22 points, and the Sugar Bears also got nine points from Brianna Mullins and Kendara Watts.
The Lady Toppers are now 5-0 at home all time in the preseason WNIT, 4-0 in the first round.