LAS VEGAS – Powered by red-hot shooting and a late 8-0 run, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders downed the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, 72-67 Friday afternoon in the opening round of the Las Vegas Invitational hosted at the Mirage Hotel.
Down 50-38 with 14 minutes to play, Texas Tech (4-1) dug deep, using a 34-17 run to pull out the programs third consecutive win.
In the end, three Lady Raiders reached double figured led by Rhyle McKinney’s 19 points on 4-of-6 shooting from distance. Redshirt freshman Jasmine Shavers contributed 13 points and 7 rebounds (both career-highs) while fellow guard Bre’Amber Scott chipped in 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Tech had 18 assists on just 21-made field goals led by Bryn Gerlich’s six assists.
In the second half, the Lady Raiders shot a blistering 7-of-8 from distance, and went 11-of-12 from the line in the final 10 minutes.
Kseniya Malashka led the Blue Raiders (2-2) with 19 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Despite a pair of triples from true freshman Bailey Maupin, the Lady Raiders faced an early 22-13 deficit after 10 minutes of action.
In the first nearly four minutes of the second period, the two teams traded buckets, as Tech’s deficit stood at 27-18 with 6:27 to play in the half.
Then the Lady Raiders made a run.
Capped by triples from McKinney and Shavers, the Lady Raiders exploded for the next eight points to cut the MTSU lead to just 27-26 with 5:04 to play.
Middle Tennessee quickly answered with an 8-1 run that increased the slim one-point lead to 35-27 with just 47 ticks to play in the half.
Tech used a pair of free throws from guard Ashley Chevalier to cut the Blue Raider lead to 35-29 at the break.
After MTSU opened with a pull up jumper from star guard Savannah Wheeler, the Lady Raiders answered with a Maupin triple to pull to within 37-32 with 9:17 to play in the third.
The Blue Raiders scored 11 of the next 16 points to balloon the aforementioned five-point lead into double figures (48-37) at the under-five media timeout.
Needing a response, Tech closed with 11 of the next 15 points, to cut the 11-point margin in half (54-48) after 30 minutes of action. The big 11-4 run was capped by back-to-back triples from McKinney and Scott.
In the fourth, the run climbed to 17-4, when Scott hit again from distance and Gerlich banked home a 30-footer to tie the game at 54-all with nine minutes to go.
With the game hanging in the balance, MTSU answered with five straight and seven of the next nine to race out to a 62-57 with 7:20 to play.
Needing a response, the Lady Raiders turned to McKinney and Shavers, who scored seven of the next nine points to tie the game at 64 with 4:03 to play.
After MTSU broke the 64-all tie with 2:55 to play on a layup and free throw to take a 67-64 lead with 2:24 to play, Scott drove the line and was fouled. The senior nailed both to bring the Lady Raiders to within 67-66.
With 1:28 to play in a one-point game, Shavers stepped in front of a Blue Raider pass and was fouled. The guard made both to give the Lady Raiders their first lead of the game at 68-67.
On the ensuing MTSU possession, the Blue Raiders turned the ball over with 69 seconds to play, setting the stage for the most important possession of the basketball game.
With 47 ticks remaining, Scott drove down the left lane, and hit an acrobatic shot from just inside the paint. The bucket gave the Lady Raiders a 70-67 advantage with 47 seconds to go.
Just 30 seconds later, the game flipped the way of the Lady Raiders for good when Scott tied up a Blue Raider player. The arrow favored Tech, giving the Lady Raiders the ball with under 10 seconds to play.
Following a timeout, Scott was fouled. The senior nailed a pair from the line, sealing Tech’s fourth victory of the season.
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE:
• The Lady Raiders made 12-of-19 attempts from distance. The 12 makes in a game are the most by a Lady Raider team since Mar. 7, 2020, when Tech also hit 12 from distance against Oklahoma State.
• Tech shot 63.2 percent from behind the arc. The last time Tech shot a better percentage with at least 10 attempts was last Jan. 26, 2022 against Baylor. In that game, the Lady Raiders shot 11-of-15 (73.3 percent).
• Over the final 14 minutes of action, the Lady Raiders scored 34 points, doubling up the Blue Raiders in that span.
• With her 19-point performance, McKinney is now averaging 16.6 points a game.
• She has reached double-figures in all five games this season, and has made a team-high 32 field goals.
• Despite missing her first free throw of the season today, the guard is still shooting 55/50/85, meaning 55 percent from the field, 50 percent from 3 and 85 percent from the line.
• The Lady Raiders had 18 assists on 21 made baskets.
• Tech’s 18 assists are the most in a game since the Lady Raiders had 21 assists against Oklahoma back on Jan. 2, 2022.
• After allowing 22 points in the opening quarter, Tech allowed just 45 points the final three quarters.
• With today’s 24 points in the final period the Lady Raiders are now a perfect 4-0 this season when reaching 20 points in the fourth.
• On the season, Tech is outscoring opponents 106-89 (+17) in the final period.
• The Lady Raiders are shooting 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) from deep in the fourth.
• Scott is now 17-of-21 from the line in her three games this season (81 percent). The guard was a perfect 4-of-4 today.
HEAD COACH KRISTA GERLICH:
“I didn’t think we played or competed very hard in the first half. For whatever we’re struggling with that. Today we did a good job of making second half adjustments. We got our kids’ attention at halftime and we really battled and competed in the second half. We closed the gap quickly in the third quarter. Going to the fourth, we talked about the game being a 10-minute fight, and that we didn’t need to win the game in one possession. I thought our kids handled the fourth quarter really well and built on our successes. The poise that we played with the last two or three minutes was the key today. We got stops and rebounds when we needed them, and we didn’t turn the ball over on offense. I’m super proud. This was a great win because Middle Tennessee is a great team that will win [Conference USA} and will win a lot of games. I’m just really proud of kids for overcoming all the distractions. There were so many distractions and our kids stayed focused.”
For the second time this month, the Lady Raiders will need to play back-to-back games, when they clash Saturday with Mercer. Tip-off between the Lady Raiders and Bears is set for 10 p.m. (CT).