Updated Mar 16, 2003 23:20:54
Ford Earns MVP Honors in Tech WAC Tournament Title
TULSA, Okla. - Louisiana Tech completed its domination of the Western Athletic Conference Saturday afternoon as the sixth-ranked Lady Techsters downed Fresno State 89-57 in the championship game of the league tournament at the Donald W Reynolds Center.
Tech, which posted an 18-0 mark during the conference's regular season action, staggered Fresno State (19-12) with some first half jabs, opening up a 14-point halftime lead, and then delivered the knockout punch in the final 20 minutes, outscoring the Bulldogs 42-24.
"I couldn't be more proud of what these ladies are doing right now," said Tech head coach Kurt Budke. "Anytime you have three games in four days, and to bring the intensity that they brought today to this championship game, I was very proud of them."
Cheryl Ford, named the tournaments most valuable player, scored 14 points and pulled down a record-setting and career-high 25 rebounds to lead five Tech players in double figures. Ford's 25 rebounds broke the WAC single game record and the WAC Tournament single game record, while her 45 rebounds in three conference tournament games also set a new mark.
When Ford wasn't dominating down low, Trina Frierson and Amisha Carter were causing the smaller Bulldogs trouble inside. Frierson, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored 18 points, while Carter chipped in with 11 points and six rebounds off the Tech bench.
"I really felt like Cheryl, Trina and Amisha at certain points in the tournament all dominated," Budke said. "They doubled and tripled Cheryl, and with Trina it gives us a good one-two punch. If you pay too much attention to one, the other is capable of taking over."
Despite spraining her ankle in the opening four minutes, freshman guard Tasha Crain ignited the Techsters, hitting 6 of 10 field goals and 4 of 4 free throws to score a career-high 17 points and pull down a career-high eight rebounds.
"I think Tasha Crain does a great job of coming in and playing big in important games as a freshman," Ford said. "She is so fast that she gets her hands on almost every ball."
Frierson agreed with her teammates assessment of Crain's performance. "Tasha does a great job of making good decisions on the court," Frierson said. "Today she scored 17 points and made all of us look very good."
On the defensive end, Tech's man-to-man defense coupled with Ford's domination on the boards kept Fresno State from ever posting a serious threat to the Lady Techsters. Ford, who also surpassed the 1,000 career rebounding mark during the game, also registered three blocks, three assists and two steals in 30 minutes of action.
Erica Smith added 14 points and seven assists for Tech, while Amber Obaze was also named to the all-tournament team.
The Bulldogs, who are almost a WNIT certainty, shot only 19 percent (7-37) in the second half. Lindsay Logan led Fresno State with 15 points while Tiffany Simon added 13.
Tech will find out where it will be seeded in the upcoming NCAA Tournament Sunday at 4 p.m. during the Selection Show on ESPN. The Lady Techsters will host the first and second rounds in Ruston March 23 and 25.