Toppers top Warhawks

Dakota Ratley

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The ULM women’s basketball team fell 77-73 Wednesday to Western Kentucky in a hard fought contest that went down to the final minute.

The Warhawks jumped out to a 41-31 lead at the half behind a 52% shooting effort. The script was flipped in the second half as Western Kentucky overcame the deficit with some hot shooting, while the Warhawks went cold from the floor.

Coach Mona Martin recognized the Warhawks’ struggles down the stretch.

“We just panicked with the ball. We quit attacking; we quit trying to go inside. The inside was wide open so many times, but we were nervous with the ball.”

Senior forward Asheigh Simmons also took note of the way of the game got away from the team in the latter part of the contest.

“Some times it gets down to the wire and things get kind of critical and we get scared. That’s not something we’re going to be able to do well if we keep letting that happen.”

Simmons recorded a double-double, scoring 20 points while pulling down 10 boards. Elexar Tugler poured in 19 points, and Alexar Tugler rounded off the double-digit scorers with 13, including a 3-5 three point shooting effort.

Western Kentucky’s all-conference forward Chasity Gooch led the way for the Lady Toppers with a new career best of 31.

ULM dominated the first half of the game. The Warhawks built up a lead as big as 11. They began to build their advantage with about 16 minutes left in the first half, and did not let Western Kentucky back in front until 8 minutes left in the contest.

A 10-0 run from Western Kentucky late in the second half set the stage for a back-and-forth battle in the last few minutes. An Alexar Tugler three-pointer brought the game to within two, before clutch free throw shooting from the Lady Toppers put the game away.

This contest is seen as a sort of measuring stick, as Western Kentucky was a popular pick to compete for a Sun Belt title.

Simmons feels that this game ultimately proved that the Warhawks are part of that conversation.

“We can play with anybody, and in my opinion, when we play, we’re better than anybody in the conference.”