@LATechWBB Opens C-USA Action Against North Texas
Jan. 2, 2018
RUSTON -- Louisiana Tech opens Conference USA action Wednesday night when the Lady Techsters host North Texas at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.
The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM, KTKC 92.9 FM and KJVC 92.7 FM with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m. Fans can also access a free audio stream through the Louisiana Tech X mobile app. A live video stream of the game can be seen through a paid subscription to CUSATV.com.
LA Tech (9-4) and North Texas (9-3) meet for the 12th time ever on the hardwood with the Lady Techsters leading the all-time series 11-0. Tech won both of last year's meetings, including a 77-71 victory in Ruston in late February.
Head coach Brooke Stoehr's team brings a five-game winning streak into the contest and a 7-1 record in home games this season. Tech has won the last five games by an average margin of 21 points a game with the closest margin being a 58-49 win on the road at Little Rock. Tech's last loss came on Dec. 4 against Clemson, but Stoehr knows her team is in for a challenge in its league opener.
North Texas enters conference play ranked No. 1 in the league in points allowed per game (50.2), field goal percentage defense (.355), steals (10.2) and turnover margin (+7.6). They rank No. 3 nationally in scoring defense behind only Central Arkansas and Green Bay.
"North Texas is giving up only 50 points per game," said Stoehr. "They are going to defend us, and they are going to defend us hard and well and try to force turnovers. We have to be very strong and have to be able to get the ball to the people we need to get it to without turning it over. The difference in conference play is every night it's a one or two possession game and you have to be ready to make those winning moments. You don't know when they will happen so you have to be ready."
The 9-3 start by North Texas is the program's best in 12 years, since the 2005-06 team started the season 10-2. Head coach Jalie Mitchell's team has reversed last year's non-conference record when they started 3-9.
Guards Terriell Bradley (16.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and Lauren Holmes (11.9 ppg, 20-70 three-pointers) are the top two offensive threats for North Texas although forward Micayla Buckner (8.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 19 blocks) also poses an inside presence.
LA Tech, coming off program win No. 1,100 in its 87-50 victory over Alcorn State in its last contest, has also played some pretty stellar defense this season. The Lady Techsters have held eight of their 13 opponents to 59 points or less and have forced 104 turnovers in its last four games.
Offensively, Alexus Malone (13.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg), Kierra Anthony (13.2 ppg, 33 steals) and Taylor Stahly (10.1 ppg, 33-76 three-pointers) lead LA Tech. The trio have combined for 26 double digit scoring games this season while both Anthony and Malone rank among the C-USA leaders in steals.
Stahly has connected on at least one three-pointer in each of the first 13 games of the year, the longest streak by a LA Tech player since Aarica Ray-Boyd hit a three-pointer in 14 straight games to end the 2005-06 season.
Junior Zhanae Whitney has emerged recently as a fourth offensive threat, averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds a game during the past three contests. Whitney is shooting 14-of-17 from the field and 13-of-15 from the free throw line in those three games.
The Lady Techsters are 23-7 all-time in conference openers, but only 1-3 in C-USA openers. This marks the first time since joining C-USA in 2013 that Tech will open league play with an opponent other than Southern Miss.
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