It may not always be high scoring or fast-paced, but this Texas Tech team has a chance to be very competitive in what always seems to be a loaded Big 12 Conference, especially with the likes of No. 1 Baylor and the defending National Champion Texas A&M Aggies in the mix.
The Lady Raiders started their march back to the NCAA Tournament tonight inside the United Spirit Arena in front of crowd of 7,551- Tech did not disappoint.
Senior Kierra Mallard, who finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds, led the Lady Raiders onto the court against the Lobos of New Mexico.
Texas Tech suffocated the New Mexico attack, holding the Lobos to 38.9 percent shooting from the field in the first half, and built up a commanding 33-17 halftime lead shooting 40 percent from the field going 12 –for-30.
The second half was much the same, as New Mexico scored 26 points on 39 percent shooting (11-28) and only 1-for-4 on three-point attempts for the game. Tech also forced New Mexico into 30 turnovers, 17 in the first half.
In the second half New Mexico was able to only scrap together 26 points, but was outscored by 10 by the Lady Raiders, who put up 36 en route to a season-opening 69-43 victory.
If the team can continue the stellar defensive play, it can mask several of its own weaknesses.
In the first half alone, the Lady Raiders missed 10 free throws, and for the game, Tech shot only 15-29 from the charity stripe.
Aside from 4-18 shooting beyond the arc, Tech played fairly well for the initial game of the season.
The Lady Raiders had three different players reach double-digits in points, and came together for a total of 36 rebounds, with Mallard leading the way with her seven.
Tech's defense and transition game stole the show tonight and Casey Morris showed off her quick hands with a team-high seven steals on the evening and also contributed 11 of her own points.
This Lady Raider team is talented and deep, considering that 30 of Tech's 69 points came off the bench, including an impressive performance from Kelsi Baker, who had a team-leading 12 points.
With defense, determination and depth, this Lady Raider team could easily challenge for a top 5 spot in the Big 12, which Tech was picked in the preseason to finish sixth in the conference, and that's saying something because the league is absolutely loaded this season.
Kristy Curry has built a winning team at Texas Tech, now it's time to see how far they can go this season.
The Lady Raiders (1-0) hit the road to take on Houston at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Hofheinz Pavilion.