The loss was the fourth in a row for WKU as it fell to 6-16 overall and 3-7 in the Sun Belt Conference. USA improved to 14-9 and 7-4 in the league.
With WKU leading by eight at intermission, it was South Alabama that came out of the locker room with the hot hand, scoring 14 of the first 17 points in the second half and holding the Lady Toppers without a field goal for the first 7:21 of the period.
After Sarda Peterson gave USA a 42-36 lead with 8:04 remaining, a Chastity Gooch layup sparked an 8-0 WKU run as the Lady Toppers were able to regain a 44-42 lead after a pair of Danay Fothergill free throws with 6:38 remaining. In fact, the Lady Toppers would score 13 of 17 points over a five-minute stretch, taking a 49-46 lead after a Gooch free throw with 2:11 remaining.
However, Mansa El and Mary Nixon hit back-to-back layups for USA to put the Jaguars back in front 50-49 with just over a minute to go. After WKU came up empty, Peterson buried a three to stretch it to a four-point lead with 30 seconds left. WKU would cut it to a three-point game in the closing seconds, but could get no closer as South Alabama stretched the advantage to six before WKU made the final margin four.
The Lady Toppers connected on four of their first five shots from the floor, jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead and never trailing at any point in the first 20 minutes. In fact, WKU went on to shoot 54.2 percent from the floor in the opening period, while holding South Alabama to just 9-for-30 shooting from the floor.
The Jaguars were able to chip a seven-point WKU lead down to one when a Mary Nixon layup made it a 14-13 game with nearly nine minutes to go in the half, but a LaTeira Owens layup and Danay Fothergill three sparked an 8-0 Lady Topper run as they stretched the lead to nine with 5:55 to go before intermission. Owens was the only player in double figures at the half, connecting on five of seven shots for 10 points.
Vanessa Obafemi knocked down a three to give WKU its first double-digit advantage at 27-17 with 3:50 on the clock, but Sarda Peterson scored the next four points for South Alabama to make it a six point game in the closing second. Ellen Sholtes was able to weave her way in for a layup at the buzzer, however, sending WKU to the locker room with a 29-21 lead.
Owens was the only Lady Topper to finish in double figures, finishing with 15 points. Govan tossed in eight, while Fothergill and Gooch each added seven off the bench. Peterson paced three Jaguars in double figures with a game-high 16 points.
WKU will play three of its next four games on the road, beginning Wednesday (Feb. 8) when it visits Murfreesboro, Tenn., for a 7 p.m. (CST) contest at Middle Tennessee.
- WKU -