@LATechWBB Travels to face Preseason Favorite Middle Tennessee
Jan. 31, 2018
MURFEESBORO, Tenn. -- Louisiana Tech will continue a tough mid-season stretch of Conference USA games Thursday night when the Lady Techsters face Middle Tennessee at the Murphy Center in a game that can be seen on ESPN3.
Tipoff for the contest is 6:30 p.m. The contest can also 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 access free audio by downloading the Louisiana Tech X mobile app.
Tech (13-8, 4-4 C-USA) is coming off a 74-64 loss at home against WKU on Sunday afternoon. Middle Tennessee (13-8, 5-3 C-USA) has won five of its last six games after starting league play with two straight losses.
Despite the loss to WKU, Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr saw some positives from certain individuals that has her feeling good about the direction of her team.
"It will be a tough test this week, but one that we welcome," said Stoehr. "Our players understand the importance of each game. If we will continue to build from last week, then we will put ourselves in a position to have success."
Tech must face the preseason player of the year in Middle Tennessee forward Alex Johnson, who is back after missing 11 games this year with an injury suffered in the season opener against Vanderbilt. Johnson is averaging 9.7 points and 3.4 rebounds per game and has played in five straight contests.
"She does a really, really good job of getting position and using her feet and size," said Stoehr. "She has seen every double team the league has thrown at her. She has been back the last five games. She is not in mid-season form right now, but she is still very, very good and will be difficult to guard.
"She has some shooters around her that make it difficult on your defense. They have a couple of stretch fours that if you try to double off of them, (Johnson) does a good job of passing out of the double team and reading a defense and finding shooters. We have to do a very good job of defending the three-point line."
As a team, Middle Tennessee is only averaging 57.6 points per game led by guard Abbey Sissom (12.3 ppg), Johnson and Jess Louro (9.6 ppg, 45-135 three-pointers). However, freshman Anna Jones, who was named the National Freshman of the Week Monday, has been coming on lately and will pose another difficult match-up for the Techsters.
Despite some offensive struggles at times this year, Middle Tennessee has won with defense. The Blue Raiders are allowing opponents only 54.6 points per game
"They are a very, very good defensive team," said Stoehr. "I feel like if we can get to 60 points that gives us a shot. They have struggled to score at times and some of that is because Johnson has been out of times and they have missed Ty Petty who was a really good player for them the last four years. Their guards have done a good job of getting to the free throw line and being able to hit threes off the spot up. They do a really good job of trying to take you out of your offense."
Tech saw a re-emergence of guards Kierra Anthony (12.7 ppg) and Kierra Lang in the loss to WKU. Anthony and Lang combined to hit 5-of-6 three-pointers and score 29 points against the Lady Toppers, something the team needs to continue to see. Junior Reauna "Sweets" Cleaver has also been playing much better in recent games, averaging 10.3 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Alexus Malone (13.2 ppg, 9.0 rpg) and Taylor Stahly (11.2 ppg, 58-132 three-pointers) continue to be the focal point of opposing scouting reports, but are consistently finding ways to contribute on both ends of the floor.
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