Nov. 11, 2012
RUSTON - It's been 30 years since Louisiana Tech and South Carolina played in women's basketball.
The top-ranked Lady Techsters defeated the 19th ranked Gamecocks 94-54 in Ruston on January 15, 1983 - the first year that the Thomas Assembly Center opened.
It's been a longtime since the ladies from Columbia and the ladies in Columbia blue and red from Ruston competed against each other on the hardwood.
Ronald Reagan was President of the United States. War Games and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi hit theatres. The final episode of M*A*S*H aired. The Police released "Every Breath You Take" and Michael Jackson hits the charts with "Beat It."
And Louisiana Tech was coming off back-to-back national titles in women's basketball.
On Monday night at the Thomas Assembly Center, head coach Dawn Staley will bring her Southeastern Conference Gamecocks into a showdown with head coach Teresa Weatherspoonand the Lady Techsters.
Although it will be Staley's first trip to Ruston, she knows the history of the program and what Weatherspoon and Co. will bring to the floor.
"Louisiana Tech and the tradition of playing there ... I don't think a lot of (opponents) have success there," Staley said. "Their style of play will bother use a little bit. They are young and athletic, and they pressure you. Hopefully we can work on few things over the next few days, and we will be a more disciplined team Monday night."
Staley is right. Since the inception of the Lady Techster program in 1974, LA Tech has won nine out of every 10 times it takes the floor in Ruston. Between old Memorial Gym - home of LA Tech basketball through the 1981-82 season - and the Thomas Assembly Center, the Lady Techsters have amassed a record of 494-52 in games played in Ruston.
South Carolina enters the game with a 1-0 mark after a lopsided 77-44 win over Elon in its season opener Friday night in Columbia. The Gamecocks are very similar to LA Tech as they return only one starter and six letter winners from last year's squad - a team that won 25 games and that advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
"(South Carolina) will be a challenge," Weatherspoon said. "Our kids understand the strength of our non-conference schedule and the strength of South Carolina. We have to learn (from the Tulane game) and get better. We have to get better playing against teams like this. The little things we didn't do (against Tulane), we have to make sure we do Monday night."
Tech fell 66-59 at Tulane Friday in its opener in a game that saw the Lady Techsters trim a 14-point second half deficit to two before fading late. However, 22 turnovers by LA Tech was too much to overcome.
"We can't have all the turnovers," Weatherspoon said. "These are things we can learn from. We have to be more in control of situations. When you work so hard to get a stop you definitely want to go down and score. Our kids just didn't put it in the basket (against Tulane) or we turned it over."
Monday's match-up will pit two teams that combined to go 0-for-24 from the three-point line in their openers (USC 0-for-14 and LA Tech 0-for-10). However, USC was able to easily win thanks to forcing 22 turnovers and pulling down 29 offensive rebounds.
The game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on KNBB 97.7 FM (Ruston) and KTKC 92.9 FM (Springhill) with the pregame show beginning at 6:30 p.m. A live video/audio webstream can also be accessed by purchasing a subscription to LA Tech All-Access on www.LATechSports.com.