Jan. 7, 2014
RUSTON - After a dozen years in the Western Athletic Conference, Louisiana Tech will get its first taste of life in Conference USA when the Lady Techsters host Southern Mississippi Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Head coach Teresa Weatherspoon who is in her sixth season on the LA Tech sideline knows that playing in the new league poses some obstacles.
"This is going to be tough," said Weatherspoon, who has seen her team post a 5-8 record in non-conference action. "Scouting will be the key. It's crucial that we understand what each team does. These are all new teams to us. We are entering into the unknown."
LA Tech won eight regular season titles and five tournaments titles during its 12-year affiliation with the WAC while posting a 157-43 mark in regular season league games. Weatherspoon said that her team has learned a lot during the first two months of the season and hopes they benefit from the extra practice time during the holiday break.
"Those first 13 games have been some difficult moments for us and some good moments," said Weatherspoon, whose team has only played one game since Dec. 22. "We have seen everything; every defense and every style of offense. We must be more consistent with our ball handling and shooting the basketball. That has been a major issue for us thus far.
"We really like the amount of time we have had to work on the things that we needed to work on. Sometimes (time off) is a positive, and sometimes it's a negative. You never really know until the ball goes up. We have tried to keep everything game-like to keep them in game mode."
Tech will welcome a Golden Eagles team that is 11-2 on the season, although only 1-2 away from Reed Arena in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss enters the game on a five-game winning streak since its 71-61 loss at Mississippi State on Dec. 14.
"Southern Miss is a tough basketball team," Weatherspoon said. "Our energy and effort must be up to par from the beginning of the game. It will be tough for us, a challenge for us but something we look forward to. This gives us an opportunity to make a statement."
"They have tremendous quickness," Weatherspoon said. "They push the ball up the floor very well. If we can stop transition it gives us a much better opportunity. They thrive on getting easy baskets. We have to get back and stop the ball. Their bigs run the floor well. We have to make them score in the half court."
Southern Miss is led by the one-two punch of junior forward Tamara Jones (17.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and senior point guard Jamierra Faulkner (13.5 ppg, 9.1 apg, 2.8 spg).
"Faulkner makes them go," Weatherspoon said. "She is the nation's leader in assists. She makes everyone around her better. She distributes the basketball and gets the ball to the right person at the right time. It's important that we keep her under control."
Tech counters with its own one-two combination as junior forward Whitney Frazier (16.1 ppg, 9.6 rpg) and junior point guard Chrisstasia Walter (13.7 ppg, 6.0 apg, 5.5 rpg, 3.3 spg) have been the team's top two offensive threats. Frazier has recorded double doubles in five of the last six games while Walter has registered back-to-back 10 assist games.
Freshman JaQuan Jackson (13.2 ppg, 25 three-pointers) and sophomore Lulu Perry (9.3 ppg) have joined Frazier and Walter to score 80 percent of the team's points this season. Jackson, the two-time C-USA Freshman of the Week honoree, is also one of the league's top three-point threats.
Tech leads the all-time series against Southern Miss 4-1, including a 3-0 record in Ruston. The two teams have not met since the Lady Techsters 83-61 win over the Golden Eagles on Jan. 2, 2011.
The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM and KTKC 92.9 FM with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m. Fans can also access audio and video online by purchasing a subscription to LA Tech All-Access at LATechSports.com.
In-game Twitter updates can be followed at @LATechWBB and fans can follow Lady Techster basketball on Facebook by LIKING Facebook.com/LATechWBB.