Lady Raiders Season Comes to an End in WNIT

Texas Tech could not fend off San Diego for the second time in the season falling and bringing a close to the 2011-2012 campaign.

The second trip to the third round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament for the Lady Raiders in program history ended the same way as first one – with a loss.

Texas Tech was unable to put together enough late runs in the second half to overcome and erase the poor shooting of the first half, falling to San Diego 60-51 knocking them out of the tournament.

"When you miss 46 shots and 13 free throws, and we came out and we were aggressive and were trying real hard, you just tell them to keep shooting it," Tech head coach Kristy Curry said. "We've got to work a little bit on our mental toughness as far as when we miss a shot, don't focus on missing, but focus on making the next one and just staying positive with it."

That's the one thing the Lady Raiders were unable to do as their season came to an end finishing the 2011-2012 campaign 21-14 overall, which was just one win short of last season's win total.

After blowing out Eastern Illinois and Tulane to punch their ticket to the third round of the WNIT, the Lady Raiders came out flat in the first shooting 2-for-20 in the first 10 minutes and one second of the game, putting together arguably the worst first half of the season.

Down 24-9, the Lady Raiders tried to climb back into the game and did a little, but then with 1:20 left in the first half the inevitable happened – an injury to Monique Smalls.

The junior drove down the lane and came down hard on the floor and when the crowd of players cleared, Smalls was on the court grabbing her left knee.

Smalls had to be helped off the court and would not return in the game, and Curry said Smalls will undergo an MRI on Friday to get a clearer picture of the injury.

With Smalls being one of the leaders on the team, having started every game of her collegiate career – 101 in-a-row – Curry said the team needed to come together and push forward but just didn't have enough.

"I'm sure it did, but when that happens you have to instead letting it rattle you, rally you," Curry said. "I think we tried to do a little bit of both there, toyed back and forth. But you stay as positive as you can, we just weren't able to rally instead be a little more rattled."

Coming out in the second half, the Lady Raiders tried time and time again to come back in the game and try to tie up the game, but every time Tech would score, San Diego (25-8) answered.

Behind the play of seniors Morgan Woodrow and Dominique Conners, who scored 17 and 13 points respectively, the Toreros were able to maintain their lead throughout until the final buzzer.

The Lady Raiders mounted a run at the lead, pulled within five at 41-36, but the Toreros promptly rattled off an 11-3 run to put the game out of reach for Tech.

Tech made one final push in the final minute with back-to-back three-pointers, but it was not enough to come all the way back falling 61-50.

"Again Dominique Conners, Amy Kame, I just thought our whole team just put up a great effort tonight," San Diego head coach Cindy Fisher said.  "We played them pretty tough obviously at San Diego, so we had a lot to learn from that game, and we felt like there was some things we could different that game to make this one a little bit better for us, which happened."

The Lady Raiders had Jordan Barncastle and Casey Morris finish in double-digits in scoring and sophomore Shauntal Nobles crash the boards for a career-high in rebounds.

Nobles, who scored just nine points, grabbed 19 of the team's 42 rebounds in the game and came close to a double-double and said she was just trying to help the team in any way she could.

"Honestly I mean we were missing a lot of shots, and I knew I had to step up and crash the boards hard," she said, "and try to get us as many offensive chances as possible."

With the loss it also marked the final game for Barncastle, who went for 14 points against the Toreros and previously 21 against Tulane to advance to this game.

Following the game Barncastle got emotional when talking about her time in the red and black and said this is not the way she wanted her career to end, but the team will move on to next season and hopefully learn from these experiences.

"It's frustrating," she said. "It's not an ideal ending, nobody wants to end their career on a loss. But trying to stay positive and hopefully we have some learning and growing memories and moments for this team for next year. It'll make them better for next year, some experience."

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