HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - A gritty defensive effort from the ULM women's basketball team could not power the offense, as Western Kentucky found its own balance of success guarding its own goal in a 66-50 win Saturday in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament on the Convention Center Court.
The Warhawks forced 26 Lady Hilltopper turnovers, converting 21 points off miscues. ULM added 13 steals and four blocked shots.
LaTeira Owens drove the paint to finish a layup to give the Lady Hilltoppers a 2-0 lead. Senior Larrie Williams followed with jumper to tie the game 2-2. Alexis Govan added a layup the next trip down the floor to give Western Kentucky the 4-2 advantage.
Western Kentucky (9-20) opened a 14-6 advantage on a jumper from Vanessa Obafemi to cap a 6-0 run. Williams finished a difficult layup down low to bring the Warhawks within six (14-8). A 3-pointer from Chastity Gooch upped the lead to 17-8.
ULM (9-21) whittled what was a 15-point deficit (27-12) down to 29-21 on a 9-2 surge to close the opening half. The all underclassmen lineup of freshmen Reagan and Taylor Maricle, Sharnice Brooks and Christina Gray, along with sophomore Jasmine Shaw, sparked the run. Williams led all scorers at the break with eight points. Gray added four points, shooting 2-for-2 from the field.
The Lady Hilltoppers raced out of the locker room on a 12-0 run to open the largest advantage of the game (41-21). Jasmine Johnson added a layup to push Western Kentucky up 43-22.
The Warhawks knifed into the deficit with an 8-3 swing to bring the score to 44-29. A fastbreak lay in from sophomore Ashleigh Simmons closed the gap to 13 (44-31). A pair of layups from Govan brought the lead back to 17 (48-31) for the Lady Hilltoppers.
A steal and layup from Shaw drew ULM within 11 at 52-41. Williams connected on two free throws that closed the Warhawk gap to nine (52-43).
Williams paced ULM with 16 points and added two steals. Fellow senior Elizabeth Torres finished with nine points and three assists.
Govan led all scorers with 22 points for Western Kentucky. Owens chipped in 11 points and five rebounds.