March 11, 2014
EL PASO, Texas - Louisiana Tech is peaking at the right time.
Chrisstasia Walter recorded a double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds and five Lady Techsters scored in double figures as LA Tech defeated North Texas 77-59 Tuesday evening at Memorial Gymnasium in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.
With the win, Tech (11-19) advances to face Charlotte Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT. The 49ers defeated the Lady Techsters 85-61 on Feb. 13 in Ruston.
However, the 49ers didn't see this LA Tech team.
Tech won its third straight game - a season long - and the fourth in its last six contests, improving to 55-10 all-time in conference tournament games.
"Well it is all about (our players); they know how fiery I am," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "I love to see them when they step out with a great deal of energy, it's contagious. It goes from one person to the next. So when those kids are playing the way that they are, it's good when they look over to the bench and see everybody enthusiastic about their play. That all it's about, being energetic for those kids as they perform."
The Lady Techters scored the first six points of the game and never trailed. Tech used a 2-3 zone defense for all 40 minutes and held North Texas (12-18) to only 31 percent shooting (22-of-71) for the game, including only 4-of-31 from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Tech was getting offense from almost every position on the floor. In addition to Walter's second career double double, Lulu Perry came off the bench to score 15 points while JaQuan Jackson and Kelia Shelton each added 13 points.
"I thought they did a great job of dictating the game from the very beginning," said North Texas coach Mike Petersen. "They had us on our heels on both ends, and they had really good energy. Usually our energy is pretty good. They started hitting shots, and we didn't do enough to stop them. We had a lot of really good looks, and they didn't go in. Basketball is a make-and-miss game. They started making and we started missing and that was the problem."
Following a free throw by North Texas forward Alexis Hyder with 12:47 to play in the opening half that cut the Tech lead to 12-10, the Lady Techsters scored 11 straight points which included three-pointers by Perry and Jackson and a conventional three-point play by Frazier. Jackson's three-pointer at the 8:54 mark gave Tech its biggest lead of the opening half at 23-10.
North Texas fought back and cut the lead to seven at the break at 36-29. The Mean Green then hit the first bucket out of the halftime locker room to close the gap to 36-31 before Tech used a 15-3 run to push the advantage out to 51-34 with 14:07 to play.
The run included Jackson's second three-pointer of the game which was her 48th of the season, tying Tamicha Jackson's freshman record set in 1996-97.
North Texas would get no closer than 15 points the rest of the way as Tech improved to 6-0 all-time against the Mean Green.
For the game Tech shot 44 percent (24-of-55) from the field, including 7-of-16 from the three-point line. The Lady Techsters hit 22-of-32 free throws.
Wednesday's second round game against Charlotte can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network with the pregame show starting at 5:30 p.m.
"(They are a) very tough opponent, we know they play with a lot of energy," Weatherspoon said. "We try to save our bodies as much as possible, because of the uphill battle we have. It's such great basketball team, they shoot the ball well, rebound the ball well, they push the ball in transition well, so there's a lot that we are going to have to do defensively."