Techsters Host NMSU Thursday Night
March 6, 2013
RUSTON, La. - With only two games remaining in the regular season, Louisiana Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon knows that her team has plenty to play for over the final weekend.
Weatherspoon and Co. will begin its final two-game home stand on Thursday night when the Lady Techsters host New Mexico State at 7 p.m. at the Thomas Assembly Center. With Tech (12-15, 8-8) in a four-way tie for fourth place in the current Western Athletic Conference standings, the Lady Techsters are fighting for seeding in the upcoming league tournament next week.
"It's best to play three out of the four days, and not the four out of five days," said Weatherspoon, referring to the setup of the WAC Tournament bracket. "These two games are important for seeding so we don't have to play that extra day in the tournament."
The top six seeds in the WAC Tournament won't play until Wednesday and will only have to win three games in four days to capture the title. While the bottom four seeds will have to play on Tuesday and would have to win four games in five days.
"It is a must that we play with urgency," Weatherspoon said. "With this group of kids that are willing to do what we ask, we are ready to go. We are home. We have to utilize that. It's important that we get on a role against New Mexico State and Denver in order to go into the tournament with confidence. We've said that before. It's important, and we have 12 kids that can get it done."
Tech will enter this final stretch of the season minus the services of its top scorer and rebounder in sophomore guard Kelia Shelton, who was dismissed from the team on Monday for violation of team rules.
"The fight goes on," Weatherspoon said. "Nothing changes. We just have to come in and do the best we can to correct things, give effort, work hard and be willing to change things. Our kids are willing to do what it takes, and that's all you can ask for as a coach. We continue to believe in our mission. Our kids will continue to fight."
Forwards Brittany Lewis (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Whitney Frazier (11.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg) lead the Lady Techsters in scoring while guard Lulu Perry (9.6 ppg) is Tech's top scorer on the perimeter. Junior guard Jelena Vucinic came off the bench in the absence of Shelton in the Lady Techsters last game and recorded her first collegiate double double with 17 points and 13 boards.
Offensively, the Lady Techsters struggled to shoot the basketball during the most recent two-game road trip in losses at Utah State and at San Jose State. In those two games, Tech shot 30 percent from the field and hit only 2-of-28 three-pointers. In its last four games, Tech is only 7-of-52 from the three-point line for 14 percent.
"It's big for us to make a statement in these games," Weatherspoon said. "We have to be very good defensively. The most important thing is we have to put the ball in the basket. We have to shoot with confidence and not try to will the ball into the goal. We know we have kids who can knock down the shots; they just have to shoot with confidence."
New Mexico State, which defeated LA Tech 71-67 in Las Cruces back on Dec. 31, enters the game 12-15 overall, 5-11 in league play after is 71-63 loss at home against Denver in its last outing. The Aggies are led by guards Stefanie Gilbreath (17.1 ppg) and Danesia Williamson (12.4 ppg).
Tech leads the all-time series against New Mexico State 16-3 although the Aggies have never won in Ruston.
The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. Fans can also access live video and audio for the games through a subscription to LA Tech All-Access at www.LATechSports.com.