It’s been 17 years to the day since Western Kentucky faced off against its in-state rival, Eastern Kentucky University, in women’s basketball.

That will end today, as the Hilltoppers come to Mc-Brayer Arena for a 3 p.m. showdown with the Colonels (2-1), the first since Nov. 23, 1991.

“I think it’s going to be exciting for everyone — the fans, for the players — it’s going to be an exciting day and we’re all looking forward to it,” EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said. “I didn’t realize how long it had been until someone told me recently. It’s going to be a pretty big day.”

In that last matchup, WKU got the better of the Colonels, winning 80-48 in Bowling Green. The Hilltoppers (2-1) own the all-time series, 16-6, and have a 9-3 advantage when playing at McBrayer Arena.

For both teams, their sole loss of the 2008-09 season has come against Vanderbilt. The Hilltoppers lost, 90-72, in Bowling Green. EKU fell to the Lady Commodores Wednesday in Nashville, 80-38.

“Every day we talk about being tough and being aggressive, boxing out, meeting the passes,” Roberts said. “A lot of those things we didn’t do against Vanderbilt and it hurt us. We’ll pay attention to those details because those small things mean a lot.”

WKU’s leading scorer, Arnika Brown, is averaging 19 points per game, as well as 14 rebounds per game. Brown was named last week’s Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week. Also averaging in double-figures for the Hilltoppers are Dominique Duck (14 ppg), Kenzie Rich (13 ppg) and Amy McNear (both with 10 ppg).

“Western Kentucky has a great team so we’re just hoping to compete for 40 minutes,” Roberts said.

Leading the Colonels is freshman guard Kayla Drake, who is averaging 20 points per game. Drake was awarded the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week and Newcomer of the Week honors last week following a 33-point outing against Chicago State.

“She plays like she practices,” Roberts said. “We stress that every day. Practice is where you get better and that carries over to games. She’s surrounded by good teammates and they look out for each other. She’s a nice player and a lot of it has to do with her teammates as well.”

Also starting for EKU today will be freshman Jasmine Lewin, sophomores Nadia Mossong and Cherie White and junior Colette Cole. EKU did not return a starter from last year’s team, so the Lady Colonels have had to primarily rely on their newcomers and underclassmen.

“We have a very young backcourt and a very inexperienced team,” Roberts said. “I think they’re handling it well and they’re always up for new challenges. I’ve been pleased with them and the team and where we are right now and I’m just looking forward to the road ahead of us.”

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