Nov. 20, 2012
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech built a 15-point second half lead and then had to withstand a Central Arkansas rally as the Lady Techsters defeated the Sugar Bears 65-63 before 2,101 fans at the Thomas Assembly Center Tuesday night.
UCA (3-1) used a 16-0 run midway through the second half to take its first lead of the game at 43-42 on a Jameka Watkins jumper with 9:57 to play. The Sugar Bears led 60-57 with under two minutes to play but four straight free throws and a Kelia Shelton leaner off the glass in the lane gave Tech a 63-60 advantage with 39 seconds remaining.
"This was a very good basketball team. They are well coached and disciplined," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "There are so many things we needed to correct in the first half. The effort wasn't there. It was like we were running in mud. The second half got worse. We allowed them to feel good about themselves. It all comes down to defending people.
"Right now it's a mentality with our kids. We don't have the mentality that we are going to get it done for 40 minutes. There is no time to be tired. We must be ready to perform every day. I take my hat off to UCA."
However, Tracey Parsons answered immediately with a three-pointer out of the right corner with 31 seconds left to tie the game at 63-63.
Tech held the basketball for the last shot and Brittany Lewis rebounded a miss by Shelton and was fouled with 6.1 seconds to play, sending the senior forward to the free throw line where she hit the first one to give the Lady Techsters a 64-63 lead.
UCA rebounded Lewis' miss on the second and called a timeout with 3.1 seconds remaining to set up a play. However, Lewis intercepted the inbound pass at midcourt and was fouled, where she hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to give Tech the 65-63 win.
The Lady Techsters (1-3) came out of the gates strong, scoring the first 11 points of the game before Central Arkansas finally got on the scoreboard with 14:54 to play in the half on a jumper by Desiree Rogers. The Tech advantage stayed in double figures throughout the majority of the first half as a Brittney Jefferson free throw with 5:05 to play pushed it out to 28-14.
Tech shot 45 percent (13-29) from the field in the first half and turned 10 UCA turnovers into 18 points as the Lady Techsters led 35-23 at the halftime break.
The Lady Techsters came out in the second half and when Whitney Frazier hit a layup with 15:39 to play, Tech led 42-27 and seemed to have all of the momentum. However, Tech went cold over the next six minutes as UCA used a 16-0 run to take its first lead of the game at 43-42. During the run, Tech committed six turnovers and was 0-for-7 from the field.
"It's a little difficult for us right now," Weatherspoon said. "Our playmakers are having some issues with getting people involved. The problems will be corrected, and they will be fine. Kelia is willing to do whatever it takes to help this team. We know our two point guards will step up and get the job done and we can get Kelia back to her rightful position."
The two teams then exchanged the lead eight times and were tied five times down the stretch before Tech came up with the big plays down the stretch to win.
Junior guard Jelena Vucinc led Tech with a season-high 17 points, including a pair of huge three-pointers in the final eight minutes of play. Lewis added 14 points, while Whitney Frazier scored 13 points and Shelton added 12 points.
"We are trying to get Jelena open jumpers," Weatherspoon saiid. "It's what she does best. When she plants her feet, she can shoot. When she has an open jumper, we feel good about her shooting the basketball."
UCA was led by Megan Herbert with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
Tech returns to action Dec. 1 when it hosts Ole Miss at 7 p.m.