Posted Feb 23, 2005 16:49:00
Techsters Focused for UTEP
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech will try to maintain its two-game lead in the Western Athletic Conference standings Thursday when the Lady Techsters host UTEP at 6:30 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Tech (16-6, 12-2 WAC) is currently sitting atop the league standings with a 12-2 mark, two games ahead of second place Rice (17-8, 10-4 WAC).
With the season-ending road trip to both Rice and Tulsa looming in the horizon, head coach Kurt Budke and Co. know they have to take care of business at home this week.
"This week will be a challenge," Budke said, referring to Tech's final two home games against UTEP and Boise State on Saturday. "Both of these teams are definitely capable of beating anyone in this league.
"Our players know that if they want to win this league, they can't afford to lose at home this week. They have to stay focused and take one game at a time. UTEP is the next game and that's who we are focused on right now."
Tech played one of its better road games this year in an 82-69 win over the Miners on Jan. 29, two days after falling to Boise State.
The Miners pose one of the biggest front lines in the WAC, boasting 6-foot-6-inch Marta Dydek, 6-foot-5-inch Ingrid Goslin and 6-foot-4-inch Izabela Piekarska. Dydek, former junior college teammate of Techster center Margaret DeCiman, leads UTEP offensively, averaging 10.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game.
Piekarska is averaging 7.9 points per game but scored a game-high 18 points against the Techsters in the first game of the season between the two teams.
"We did some things well the first time we played UTEP," Budke said. "We were a mad team going into that game because of the loss two nights earlier. However, watching film from the game, we have to do a better job inside against them then we did the first time. We can't allow them to have as many easy looks as they got inside the first time we played."
Although Tech continues to ride the hot hand of junior guard Tasha Crain (18.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.4 apg), the Lady Techsters are also benefiting from the improved play of Lakiste Barkus (12.5 ppg) and the re-emergence of senior guard Erica Taylor (14.3 ppg last four games).
The contest can be heard on KXKZ-FM 107.5 and via the Internet at www.z1075fm.com with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m.