Lady Raiders reflect on big win

It's not everyday that the Lady Raiders knock off a top ranked team. It's been nearly 11 years since Texas Tech defeated top ranked Vanderbilt in the NCAA tournament, and this victory over Texas is the first time the Lady Raiders have defeated a number one ranked team during the regular season.

Everybody from the fans to the players to the coaches knows how special the rivalry between Texas and Texas Tech is. "You just go to war with each other for forty minutes and somebody makes more plays than somebody else," said Texas Tech Head Coach Marsha Sharp. This victory was made a little bit more special by the news earlier this week that Cisti Greenwalt would miss the remainder of the season with a fractured ankle. "I don't know if I've ever been prouder of a group of players than I am ours today because of what they handled this week," said Coach Sharp. The fans also helped turn the game into something special. The sellout crowd was easily the loudest crowd in recent memory. "We're just proud to have had an opportunity to play them in this atmosphere," said Coach Sharp. "We have a lot of respect for that program."

The key coming into this game was the play of the post players. Could Texas Tech find a way to stop the Texas post players who had been the deciding factor in Austin? "Last time we played them they had, I think, forty-seven points total, so Coach Sharp said we need to limit their post players down," said LaToya Davis. In the end the Texas Tech post players, led by Jolee Ayers-Curry and LaToya Davis, passed the test with flying colors. "What can you say about our post players and how hard they battled," said Coach Sharp. Not only were the post players trying to find a way to cope with the loss of one of their top defensive players, they also had to figure out a way to stop the bigger Texas players. "Sometimes outsized, and a lot of times just had to go make plays and be aggressive and make things happen," said Coach Sharp. Another key was finding a way to have something left in the tank at the end of the game. "It's something we've had trouble with probably every time we've played Texas the last two years was running out of steam and enough energy at the end to finish it," said Coach Sharp. "They both battled hard at the end and were able to make some plays and give us a chance to win."

The other key was on the offensive end. Erin Grant had a rough start with three early turnovers, but the sophomore point guard continued to battle, and finished the game with 11 points and 9 assists. Grant was able to penetrate and find open players, with Ayers-Curry and Davis being the main beneficiaries. Ayers-Curry was able to take advantage of a weakness in the Texas defense at the free throw line. All she had to do was take the shot. "Coach Sharp actually told me if I missed the first one and I didn't take that second one, she was going to pull me over to the bench and knock me around a little bit," said Ayers-Curry. That offense may have decided the game early in the first half when Texas Tech scored ten straight points to take a36-31 lead that they never relinquished. "When we were in Austin it was just the opposite. We really got ourselves in trouble the first five minutes in Austin," said Coach Sharp. After what happened in Austin, the Lady Raiders wanted to start the second half strong. "We couldn't let the game get away from us in the first five minutes," said Coach Sharp. "They went out and executed, did exactly what we asked them to do in the locker room."

What does this win say about the Lady Raiders? "I think it says a lot about our team and our mentality," said Ayers-Curry. The most important thing is that this team seems to have found a way to cope with the adversity they have faced this season. "We've had a couple of rough spots in our season, but each time we've kind of had to pick ourselves up and count on each other a little more," said Ayers-Curry. While this is certainly a victory that fans should savor, the Lady Raiders still have to face a veritable murderers row of teams. "We have to take this as one win and move on," said Coach Sharp. "When we come back Tuesday, it has to be gone, and we have to be ready to go play on the road again."


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