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Fast Start Powers Lady Raiders to Victory over New Mexico

Hightower

KATY, TEXAS – The Texas Tech Lady Raiders finished out the Van Chancellor Classic with an 82-75 victory over the University of New Mexico Lobos Sunday afternoon at the Merrell Center.

Playing in front of the greatest player in Texas Tech (6-1) history Sheryl Swoopes, the Lady Raiders rode a 49-point opening half to victory.

In the win, all five Tech starters reached double figures. Guard Lexy Hightower had a team-best 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Bryn Gerlich and Rhyle McKinney added 14 each.

Ella Tofaeono had 13 points on efficient 6-of-8 shooting. She was joined by Taylah Thomas who added 10 points and five rebounds.

After making just one-of-10 from behind the arc last night, Tech bounced back against New Mexico (5-3), shooting 7-of-14 from deep.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

The game got off to a flying start, as the Lady Raiders used three triples to take a 15-9 lead with 6:34 to play in the opening period.

After a 12-2 run gave New Mexico a game-high 21-17 lead with 3:35 to play, the Lady Raiders closed the quarter on a 10-4 to take a 27-25 after one.

Sunday’s second quarter started identically to the first, as Tech used a triple from Hightower to push the lead to 30-25 with 9:08 left in the half.

The once 10-4 run doubled to 20-8 a few minutes later when a Tofaeono layup gave her team a 37-29 lead with 6:16 to play.

After a LaTascya Duff 3-pointer brought UNM to within five, the Lady Raiders rode one last 12-2 to take a first-half high lead of 15 (49-34).

The Lobos answered the Tech run with a 7-0 run to cut the Lady Raiders advantage to just 49-41 at the break.

Following halftime, New Mexico was able to draw within 51-47 with 7:15 to play, but an important 9-3 span over the next four minutes and 44 seconds gave Tech a 60-47 lead with 2:49 to play in the third.

New Mexico was able to cut the lead to 62-52 with 76 ticks to play, but a McKinney jumper and a Tofaeono free throw gave the Lady Raiders a commanding 65-52 lead after three quarters of play.

Five of the first seven went to the Lady Raiders in the fourth, as a McKinney 3-pointer gave Tech a game-high 70-54 lead.

Despite being held scoreless for the final 2:11 of action, the Lady Raiders held off a late UNM charge to hold on for an 82-75 victory.

COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):

“I liked how we attacked New Mexico today. We really stuck to our game plan offensively. On the defensive end, it was rapid pace, and they got some good looks early in the game, but our kids competed and matched their firepower on offense until we could settle into the game defensively. We did a great job of executing. We talked during our film session about some mismatches that we could exploit and how we needed to control the ball. It was about us playing efficient offensively, and limiting their possessions, because of how well they can score it.”

On the team’s balanced scoring:

“[Khadija] Hadi [Faye] really rose to the occasion and came in and gave us a spark. Even though she didn’t score it in the first half, she was a presence because she got some rebounds and blocked a couple of shots. And then Rhyle did a good job of shaking off a slow start. She kept shooting it and started to knock some down in big situations.”

On Sheryl Swoopes coming to the game:

“I love that she came and supported her Lady Raiders. It was so good to see her. I truly believe that she is the greatest player of all-time. I got to play with her and saw it first-hand. But probably one of the coolest moments of today, was after warmups, when Vivian Gray our All-American was excited that she got to meet Sheryl Swoopes. For her to be able to say that is really cool, and speaks to the tradition of this program. Vivian could very easily be the next Sheryl Swoopes at Texas Tech. So, it’s cool that she realizes the history and that she was able to meet her. It’s great that Sheryl was able to come and support us. It was so good to see her and it’s awesome to have that support from former teammates and Lady Raiders.”

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE:

• Texas Tech tied its season-high in points scored (82).
• The Lady Raiders also scored 82 in last Monday’s victory over Texas State.
• The Tech bench outscored New Mexico’s bench 14-0 Sunday.
• Tech had a season-high 21 assists on 31 made field goals.
• Gerlich’s 14 points were a career-high.
• The 49 first half points were a season-high.

UP NEXT:

The Lady Raiders return to action on Thursday morning when the Georgia Lady Bulldogs visit United Supermarkets Arena. The matchup is the annual education day and the Lady Raiders BIG 12/SEC Challenge matchup.

–TECH–

Release provided by Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics



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