Women's Hoops: Vandy- Western Kentucky Preview

The Vanderbilt Commodores travel to Diddle Arena in Bowling Green for the Western Kentucky Lady Toppers' home opener Wednesday night. The game also marks Coach Shawn Campbell's home debut. Campbell, who was hired in July to replace Steve Small who retired after four seasons as head coach, served as associate head coach at Temple for one year and for 15 years as assistant/associate head coach at Virginia before coming to Western Kentucky.

This game marks the Commodores' fourth game against Western Kentucky since the series resumed in the 1998-99 season. In the first of those games, Vanderbilt lost 90-86 in Memorial Gym in overtime. Since then, Vandy has won both games, 73-57 in Diddle Arena and 89-58 in Memorial Gym last year.

Last year, the Lady Toppers finished 19-14 for the season, losing in the quarterfinals of the postseason WNIT to tournament champion Ohio State. Western Kentucky lost their All-American candidate Sharae Mansfield to graduation, but return their other top two scorers. 5'11 senior guard Natalie Powers averaged 22.3 ppg last year while shooting 44.2% from behind the arc, and 5-10 junior guard Kristina Covington averaged 10.2 ppg with a .357 3pt%.

Two Western Kentucky newcomers look likely to make an impact. 5'11 sophomore forward Leslie Logsdon, who had to sit out last season for academic reasons, is now eligible to play. Logsdon's name is well-known to anyone who followed Jenni Benningfield's high school career.  Logsdon, Benningfield and Kentucky sophomore SeSe Helm were in a three-way competition for Kentucky Miss Basketball, which was ultimately won by Benningfield. In two games this season, Logsdon is averaging 18 ppg.

The other newcomer to attract attention so far is 6'1 junior Shala Reese, a JUCO transfer, who averaged 8.5 ppg in only 10 minutes per game in the Stanford tournament and started in one of the games.

At this point in the season, Coach Campbell is still tinkering with his starting lineup. Powers, Logsdon, and Covington started both games, but the other starting positions look to be up for grabs. Reese, 5'6 senior guard LaVonda Johnson, 6'2 sophomore forward Leah Lineberry, and 5'8 sophomore guard Camryn Whitaker have each gotten one start.

Even though the starting lineup is still in flux, some patterns are emerging. Last year, the Lady Toppers shot 36.6% from 3-point range, and with the addition of Logsdon, look to be even better this year. In the two games this weekend, WKU hit 17 of 36 from 3-point range for a blistering 47.2%, led by Logsdon (6 of 12), Powers (4 of 7). In both games, they were seriously out-rebounded by the competition (52-31 vs. UCSB, and 39-28 against Indiana). Against UCSB, the Lady Toppers had 9 steals including 3 each from Johnson and Covington.  At this point, WKU looks like a quick guard-oriented team with great perimeter shooting, but with a relatively weak inside presence.

Gametime is 7 p.m. in Diddle Arena in on the Western Kentucky campus in Bowling Green.

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