Jan. 22, 2014
RUSTON - After leading for the first 34 minutes of the game, Louisiana Tech found itself trailing by seven against Florida Atlantic with just under five minutes to play in the game Wednesday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Tech (6-12, 1-4 C-USA), which had dropped it last five games, showed some moxie, using a 16-3 run over the next four minutes to recapture the lead. However, it wasn't until junior forward Whitney Frazier sank two free throws with 5.6 seconds to play that the Lady Techsters could breathe easily.
Frazier's two free throws proved huge as Tech held on for the 64-63 win despite Florida Atlantic's Kimberly Smith sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer.
"We came out and did enough to get the win," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "I'm proud of the way our kids responded (after falling behind). They could have hung their heads. They didn't. They found a way to dig deep and get the win.
"It wasn't always pretty (tonight). We committed too many turnovers and we gave up too many offensive rebounds in the second half. But we won. We found a way to win."
Tech won despite Florida Atlantic (11-7, 1-4 C-USA) attempting 30 more field goals than the Lady Techsters. Tech hit 50 percent (23-46) of its field goals while the Owls hit only 39 percent (22-76). It was the first time since its 74-40 win over Northwestern State on Dec. 11 that LA Tech shot better than 39 percent from the field.
"We shot a better percentage because our kids worked to get the best looks," Weatherspoon said. "We didn't settle for the first open look. Our guards worked to get better shots or to get the ball to their teammates for better looks."
After Florida Atlantic used its own 16-3 run to turn a 43-37 deficit into a 53-46 advantage on Latavia Dempsey's jumper in the lane with 4:55 to play, Tech responded. Lulu Perry - who finished with a team-high 17 points and eight rebounds - hit a long three-pointer as she scored five straight points to ignite the Lady Techsters response.
Chrisstasia Walter, who played only seven minutes in the game due to coach's decision, then scored four straight points to tie the game at 55-55 with 3:43 to play. After Perry and Veanca Hall each hit 1-of-2 free throws, freshman JaQuan Jackson buried a long three-pointer out of the right corner with 1:41 to play to give the Lady Techsters a 60-55 lead.
With Tech leading 62-56 with 35 seconds to play, the Lady Techsters were unable to put the game away as Walter and Jackson each missed a pair of free throws. Florida Atlantic responded on the offensive end with buckets each time, cutting the Tech lead to 62-60 with 9.9 seconds to play.
However, Tech beat the full court press as Walter found Frazier who took the ball strong to the goal and was fouled with 5.6 seconds to play. Frazier hit both free throws to extend the lead to four and ultimately providing the eventual game-winning points.
Tech, which improved to 2-0 all-time against Florida Atlantic, scored the first four points of the game before the Owls scored their first bucket on a Briah Blakely bucket with 16:32 to play in the first half. Blakely finished with a career-high 22 points.
Frazier and Perry combined to score the next eight points of the game as Tech pushed its lead to 12-2 with just over 12 minutes to play. A Morgan Robinson three-pointer for Florida Atlantic cut the lead to 12-4 before the Lady Techsters opened up as much as a 12-point first half lead on a Perry jumper with 2:28 to play. Tech led 27-20 at the half.
"I was a little worried that we weren't up more at the half," Weatherspoon said. "We knew that (Florida Atlantic) can really put points on the board. We felt like we had an opportunity to be up more, and that we were in for a tough second half."
Perry finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds while Frazier recorded her eighth double double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Veanca Hall scored seven points and grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds while Jackson added 12 points.
Smith added 11 points and Dempsey 10 for Florida Atlantic.
Tech returns to action Saturday when it travels to New Orleans to face Tulane at 2 p.m. at Fogelman Arena.