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Western Kentucky travels to Ball State and hosts Louisville in next two outings

WKU women's hoops travels to Ball State and hosts Louisville during the coming days. WKU Insider looks at the upcoming contests.

The WKU women’s basketball team has been waiting to play its next game since March 20. On that day, esteemed Lady Toppers Chastity Gooch and Alexis Govan took a 30-win team all the way to the NCAA tournament and fell just two points shy of upsetting fifth-seeded Texas.

Almost exactly eight months later, Michelle Clark-Heard and her team will get their chance to begin, what they are calling, a new chapter. The Lady Tops will travel to Ball State on Thursday to officially open their season.

“It’s very exciting. I’m just excited for the girls and just to have the opportunity to kick off the new season and just kind of see where we’re at,” Clark-Heard said.

The Lady Tops had to wait an extra week to open their season, as most teams played their first game this past weekend.

“It was very disappointing,” sophomore forward Ivy Brown said. “I think some teams have played two or three games so far and we still haven’t played one, but it gives an extra week to work on things that we needed to work on and get better at the little things.”

This opening weekend provides two tough tests for WKU. Ball State boasts the Mid-American Conference preseason player of the year, Nathalie Fontaine, and was picked to finish second in the MAC.

“They’re a very well-coached team and they like to move the ball a lot and get the perfect shot,” sophomore forward Ivy Brown said. “They’re not just gonna throw up anything. We just gotta sit down and play defense on them.”

Two days after playing BSU, the 16th ranked Louisville Cardinals will come to Diddle Arena to take on the Lady Tops in an in-state contest.

The Louisville game carries a little more meaning than usual for Clark-Heard, who served as an assistant to Jeff Walz on the Cardinals’ staff for five years.

“I think it’s cool. Jeff does a great job and they’ll come in here hungry and it’ll be exciting and it’ll be fun and it’s always good to coach against to me, what [I consider] family,” she said.

Scheduling such tough games is good for a young basketball team like the WKU women. It will take a strong effort from the Lady Tops, but they are capable of coming away with two wins after this weekend.

“The biggest thing will be energy,” Brown said. “We haven’t played in two weeks so I think everybody’s fired up and ready to go.”

Even with all of the new faces, Clark-Heard has insisted that this season should be no different from last season in terms of long-term goals. Even if the total record isn’t as good on paper, or the stats don’t shine like they did last season, the ideas behind the team goals remain the same.

“It’s gonna be an interesting task,” Clark-Heard said. “Our whole goal is for us to keep getting better and get ready for conference play.”

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