Posted Nov 6, 2002 20:40:15
Big Four Lead Techsters to Exhibition Win
RUSTON - First year head coach Kurt Budke has made no bones about it since his Louisiana Tech team began practice almost four weeks ago ... his four returning letter winners have to be the leaders early in the year if the Lady Techsters are to be successful.
Those four - senior Cheryl Ford, juniors Amber Obaze and Trina Frierson and sophomore Erica Smith - did exactly that Wednesday night at the Thomas Assembly Center as Tech downed the Houston Jaguars 94-52.
Led by Smith's 19 points, the "Big Four" combined to score 61 points and grab 25 rebounds as the Lady Techsters dominated the undermanned Jaguars team from the opening tip.
"The people we expected to score, scored," Budke said. "I've told you all along that the big four have to play well and stay out of foul trouble. I thought all four were just fine tonight."
Tech came out of the gates strong, scoring the first 14 on its way to a 21-2 lead seven minutes into the contest. The first points by a player besides the returning four letter winners came on a Tamaka Clay free throw at the 8:17 mark of the first half.
"The new girls were nervous," said Ford, who scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots in just 22 minutes. "They were all pacing in the locker room (before the game). We have a lot to work on still, but I feel like we can go a long way with this team. We are going to surprise a lot of people."
Despite the lopsided score, the evening wasn't perfect for Tech as 16 turnovers and 16 of 32 free throw shooting blemished an otherwise solid performance.
"It's so obvious we have a lot of work to do," Budke said. "The only way this team is going to get better is to play games. It was great to have this game; with the band playing, with people in the stands and the smell of popcorn. It was good for this team."
Another bright spot for Tech was the play of Frierson, who finally looks 100 percent healthy after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in October of 2000. The Vicksburg, Miss., native scored 15 points and added eight rebounds in 27 minutes of action.
"I'm just happy to be well," Frierson said. "The effort was definitely there tonight. What more could we ask. We are just going to go out every night and give it our best."
Tech opens the regular season Sunday at 11:30 a.m. against No. 7 ranked Texas Tech in Knoxville in a nationally televised contest on ESPN2.