March 4, 2014
RUSTON - Louisiana Tech has faced some of the top offensive players in the country this year.
On Wednesday night at the Thomas Assembly Center, the Lady Techsters (9-19, 4-11 C-USA) will see the nation's second-leading scorer as the FIU Panthers (12-16, 6-9 C-USA) come to the Thomas Assembly Center for a 6:30 p.m. tipoff on Senior Night.
FIU senior guard Jerica Coley enters the TAC averaging 29.6 points per game, which trails only Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims (30.2), and needs only 37 more points to eclipse the 3,000-point plateau in her collegiate career.
Coley has succeeded in her career both on and off the court. Already named a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award and the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award and one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Women's Player of the Year Award, the 5-foot-7-inch guard has also been voted as a CoSIDA Academic All-American this year. And, deservedly so.
Coley has 25 games of 20 or more points and 14 games of 30 or more points ... this year. She also posted 47-point performances against Wake Forest and Southern Miss and a 43-point outburst at Tulsa.
"She is an unbelievable athlete," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "She does everything with a tremendous amount of patience and poise. You have to be a smart defender and stay in great defensive position. She can take advantage of you as soon as you get out of position. A player like Coley you have to defend as a team."
While Coley has been cruising, FIU has struggled over the last month, losing six of its last seven games, including a 72-56 loss against Old Dominion on Saturday.
Tech still has plenty to play for as the Lady Techsters are trying to position themselves for as high of a seed as they can still earn in the upcoming Conference USA Tournament. The Lady Techsters can finish as high as the 12 seed with a win and pending the results of some other games on Wednesday.
LA Tech senior guards Jelena Vucinic and Brittney Jefferson will suit up for the final time in Ruston as the duo will be recognized at halftime of the game for their contributions to the program. Vucinic is a four-year letter-winner who has seen action in 76 careers games while Jefferson is a two-year letter-winner who has seen action in 45 games.
"They are two wonderful young ladies," Weatherspoon said. "Jelena has not played as much as she would like this year. You talk about a special young lady who has been so valuable to this program and to this university with the way she conducts herself on and off the floor. Brittney Jefferson hasn't played as much as she would have liked either, but she has always been there when her number is called. They are such special young ladies. They are definitely going to be missed. It will be an emotional night."
Whitney Frazier (16.4 ppg, 9.7 rpg), Chrisstasia Walter (11.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg), JaQuan Jackson (11.4 ppg, 46 three-pointers) and Lulu Perry (11.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg) continue to lead Louisiana Tech in the box score. However, junior guard Kelia Shelton made her return to the floor in the 67-54 win at North Texas on Saturday and contributed with two points and nine rebounds in just 18 minutes.
"We weren't looking for Kelia to take over the show," Weatherspoon said. "We wanted her to show her leadership and bring a positive influence to the floor. Her presence alone is big. Every one of her teammates trusts in what she brings. She did an excellent job in those 18 minutes. She was everywhere."
Tech leads the all-time series against FIU 7-0, including a 3-0 mark in Ruston.
The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network with the pregame show starting at 6 p.m.