Defensive Effort Powers Lady Raiders to 11th Straight Win
LUBBOCK, Texas – Behind a strong defensive effort that included four players reaching double-figures, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders closed out non-conference play with a wire-to-wire 68-45 victory over Mississippi Valley State Tuesday afternoon at United Supermarkets Arena.
In what turned out to be its 11th straight victory, Texas Tech (12-1) was led by guard Jasmine Shavers’ 12 points and 11 points from Bryn Gerlich.
Nine of Gerlich’s 11 points came in the key second quarter where Tech outscored MVSU (2-9) 24-14.
Ella Tofaeono scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting while Rhyle McKinney chipped in another 10 points.
It was another strong defensive performance, as the Lady Raiders held MVSU to just 15-of-48 shooting (31.3 percent) and to just 1-of-10 shooting in the opening quarter. The Devilettes managed just five first quarter points enroute to 45 total points allowed.
The victory was Tech’s third straight performance allowing 47 points or fewer, marking the first time since the 2004-05 season where the Lady Raiders allowed fewer than 50 points in three straight games.
Tech’s 12 non-conference wins are the most in a season since 2011-12 when the Lady Raiders started 12-0. That season, Tech went 21-14 overall and advanced to the third round of the Postseason WNIT.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
After neither side was able to break the ice over the first nearly three minutes of action, a Tofaeono layup sparked a 4-0 Tech run that gave the Lady Raiders a 5-0 lead with 6:44 to play.
A pair of free throws by MVSU cut the Tech lead to 4-2, but the Lady Raiders answered with the next eight points to take a 10-2 lead with 2:45 to play in the opening quarter.
After missing its first seven shots and 2-of-4 from the free-throw line, MVSU finally hit its lone field goal of the period when Elisa Saffold connected from deep. The shot cut the Tech lead to just 10-5 with 68 seconds left in the first quarter.
Tech used a pair of Gerlich free throws to close the quarter up 12-5.
In the opening 10 minutes the Lady Raiders held MVSU to just 1-of-10 shooting from the floor. It’s the first time, Tech allowed one field goal or fewer in a game since the Kansas State game last season (Jan. 15).
After MVSU opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run to draw to within 12-11 with 7:30 to play in the opening half, the Lady Raiders used a pair of steals from Katie Ferrell to spark a 19-2 run that ballooned the once one-point lead to 31-13 with 3:12 left.
After MVSU countered with the next seven points to draw to within 31-19 with 1:49 to play in the second, Tech closed the quarter with the final five points to take a 36-19 lead into halftime.
In the second quarter, the Lady Raiders forced 10 MVSU turnovers, turning those into 12 points. Conversely, the Lady Raiders assisted on 9-of-10 baskets they scored in the period.
Following the break, Tech scored the first six points and 11 of the first 13 points to a take a 47-21 lead with 4:29 to play in the third quarter.
MVSU answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to draw to within 47-27 with 3:05 to play and ended up scoring 10 of the final 14 to cut the Tech lead to 51-31 after 30 minutes.
In the fourth, Tech’s lead got no lower than 19 points (51-32, 9:44) as the Lady Raiders cruised to the 68-45 victory.
Playing almost the entire fourth quarter (8:22) and over 12 minutes in total, true freshman Kilah Freelon scored a pair of points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds, while sophomore Saga Ukkonen scored seven points in just over nine minutes of action.
COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):
“I’m very excited to start 12-1 and I’m very proud of our girls for taking care of business in the non-conference. We’ve improved every game, but we’re still not playing to the level I want us to. Most coaches are going to say that this time of year. I do think that you can see some really big bright spots. Our defense continues to shine and continues to get better. We need to carry that into Big 12 play, and we still need to work on some different areas that need help, but at the same time I’m proud of how we’ve held three straight opponents under 50 points. That’s a goal of ours and I think our girls have been much more aware of trying to achieve our defensive goals. We got some good looks early in the game and our shooters just couldn’t knock down some 3-pointers. But that’s why you play a game on Dec. 27 before conference play. To get back in the groove, shake off some of the rust and get some of your confidence back. I was really proud of the shots we were taking, and I told them that during the first timeout. It’s not often that we’re going to see Bailey [Maupin] go 0-for-6 from 3-point range, Rhyle go 0-of-4 and Jazz [Shavers] go 1-for-5 from three. They’re great shooters and I bet that we’ll see them in the gym in the next three days.”
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:
• Tech forced 23 total turnovers on Tuesday and now have forced 143 the last seven games.
• The Lady Raiders are now 11-0 when forcing at least 15 turnovers and 5-0 when forcing at least 20.
• With the win, the Lady Raiders have won 11 straight games for the first time since the 2019-20 season, when they opened 11-0.
• On the eight-game homestand, the Lady Raiders have trailed for just 10 minutes of game action.
• The Lady Raiders haven’t trailed by more than one possession in the last eight games.
• Today’s game marks the 11th time in the last 13 games that Tech has led by 10+ points.
• The Lady Raiders shot just 5-of-27 from 3-point range and 27-of-70 from field.
• Tech allowed just five total offensive rebounds and just three second chance points.
• The Lady Raiders are now 9-0 when allowing fewer than 10 second chance points this season.
Big 12 play awaits the Lady Raiders on Saturday afternoon, as Iowa State travels to Lubbock for the Big 12 Conference opener. Tip-off from United Supermarkets Arena is set 2 p.m.
Release provided by Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics