Jan. 13, 2014
RUSTON - During their time together in the Western Athletic Conference, Louisiana Tech and Rice developed an intense rivalry in women's basketball as the Lady Techsters and Owls played some memorable games.
Eight years removed from the last time the two programs met as conference foes, Louisiana Tech ventures into Tudor Fieldhouse - formerly known as Autry Court before recent renovations - looking for its first Conference USA win.
The two teams will tipoff Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in a game that can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM (Ruston/Monroe), KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill) and KJVC 92.7 FM (Mansfield).
Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon said that travel in Conference USA will be a little different than the WAC, but it's not something that should not affect her team.
"It's a little different (than in the WAC), especially having two days in between the games," Weatherspoon. "It's something we will get used to. Sometimes going on the road can be a good thing. You can refocus and get away and just be the team. We haven't won on the road this year and that is something we have to change. It will be a big week for us on the road. Our first opportunity is Wednesday against a very good Rice team."
Tech leads the all-time series against the Owls 9-4 although Rice holds a 3-2 advantage in games played in Houston. During the four years that the two programs were both members of the WAC, Tech and Rice combined to win all four regular season titles and all four conference tournament titles.
And some of their regular season match-ups were instant classics.
In 2001-02, Rice snapped LA Tech's 77-game conference game winning streak with a 57-56 victory at Autry Court, just a month after the Lady Techsters had handed the Owls an 88-42 drubbing in Ruston. Tech would win both the regular season and tournament title.
Two years later, the Owls won a memorable 87-84 overtime game in Houston. After Amisha Carter had given Tech a one-point lead with six seconds remaining in regulation, Tech was assessed a technical foul when then coach Kurt Budke called a timeout that the team didn't possess. Rice hit the tying free throw and then won the game in the extra period. Tech would win both the regular season title and tournament title.
Although none of the current players and coaches were around for those contests, Wednesday night's match-up could come down to the wire like those games.
Rice (8-7, 1-1 C-USA) is led by forward Jessica Kuster. The 6-foot-2-inch forward is averaging 20.0 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. She is an automatic double double with 14 of them in 15 games.
Kuster is the only Owl player averaging more than seven points per game as Rice boasts 11 players who average 10 or more minutes per contest. Rice defeated FIU 59-41 in their first C-USA game before falling 97-69 at Florida Atlantic Saturday.
Tech (5-10, 0-2 C-USA) opened the league schedule with two of the conference's top teams, falling to Southern Mississippi and Middle Tennessee last week.
The Lady Techsters must cut down on turnovers - a combined 46 in the two conference games - and must improve on their field goal accuracy - 31 percent in the two games - in order to win on the road.
"The great thing is we have mentally tough kids," Weatherspoon said. "It has been tough; It hasn't turned out the way we wanted to. We are constantly correcting things. These are things we can control. It's not turning the ball over, it's putting a body on people and getting the rebound; it's making shots.
"Our kids have worked tremendously hard in practice. They understand the game plan. We just don't execute for 40 minutes of basketball on game day. We are trying to find ways to make sure they are ready when the ball goes up."
Junior Whitney Frazier continues to lead the Lady Techsters, averaging 15.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She has registered five double doubles in her last seven games and has pulled down double digit rebounds in seven of the last nine.
The game 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 6:30 p.m. Fans can also access audio 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.