No Miracles for Little Rock Ladies

The University of Arkansas-Little Rock Lady Trojans came to the United Spirit Arena in search of miracles; what they found didn't add up to enough to stave off Lady Raider Head Coach Marsha Sharp's 535th win as Texas Tech hammered Little Rock 69-29.

One small miracle appeared when Little Rock's lone senior, guard Alison Cash, sank her first shot less than two minutes into the game, from a long step outside the three-point arc. She cut Tech's early lead from four points to one with that stroke – but Little Rock would never be that close again.

Down the court went Tech and Chesley Dabbs answered with a trey of her own. Instantly, Tech led 7-3 – a situation that didn't last long as Alesha Robertson found the range from beyond the arc and the Lady Raiders started to pull away.

Little Rock tried -- briefly -- an inside game against 6-foot-5 Tech center Cisti Greenwalt. No miracles were forthcoming: Greenwalt swatted aside not just one shot, but the follow-up attempt as well; then, under the other basket, Tech's senior starter quickly scored the first of her 14 points for the evening. The Lady Trojans would not challenge Greenwalt again in the paint; indeed, Little Rock scored no points from the lane all night.

Dropping in Little Rock's next trey, Jocelyn Love led her team with 12 points as she hit three field goals in 13 tries and three of four free throws. Little Rock's freshmen -- center, Lydia Gonzales with four points, guard Courtenay Brown with two, guard Jessica Brown with a three, and Rachel Smith, who sank both her free throws – distributed the scoring very nearly evenly among themselves. Demetrice Preyer sank one trey to complete Little Rock's total.

Another miracle came when Erin Grant hit none of her four attempts at a field goal – and the Lady Trojan defense that held her scoreless did so without sending Grant to the free-throw line.

Most of the miracles went Tech's way, though. Tech benefited from 26 turnovers while losing only 17, and outscored Little Rock in the paint 40 to 0. Six Little Rock turnovers came as a direct result of Tech's defense, when the shot clock ran down before the Trojans could get an open look. Tech made a dozen of its own small miracles by stealing the ball, while allowing the Trojans' banditry only 10 successes. The biggest miracles definitely appeared to favor Tech: Little Rock earned no points for one stretch of 13:35 minutes while failing to convert 20 straight possessions.

Tech's inside game worked as well for freshman Erin Myrick late as it had for Greenwalt early. Myrick played nine minutes, scored nine points, blocked one shot, and collared four rebounds.

Tech freshman Tawanna Flowers made a quick-thinking contribution late in the first half when Greenwalt missed the front end of a one-and-one. Little Rock apparently expected Tech's center to shoot again from the charity stripe, because they simply stood and watched as Flowers grabbed the rebound and scored on a quick put-back to make the Lady Raider margin 29-9.

Freshman Darrice Griffin continued to be Tech's strongest substitute as she played 22 minutes, scored three points, snared two rebounds, blocked two shots and provided one assist. Sophomore Brooke Baughman played 18 minutes, earning one block, one steal, two assists and one rebound.

Greenwalt finished the game with another double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 10 rebounds while blocking five shots, earning two assists, and stealing the ball once. Juniors Chesley Dabbs and LaToya Davis contributed nine and seven points, respectively, to Tech's victory. Dabbs had two steals, one block and two rebounds. Davis had one block and three rebounds. Erin Grant, the junior point guard who has started every game but one in her three years as a Lady Raider, did not score during her 26 minutes of play, but she yanked down six rebounds and stole the ball four times. She also had four assists.

Sophomore Robertson scored 14 points for Tech on her way to being named player of the game. Describing the team's reaction to its last game, a three-point loss to 7th-ranked Stanford in Santa Clara Sunday, Robertson said, "This was a great game for us, to come back from a loss where we really should've won We're really happy with the way things went tonight."

Patrice Edwards, Tech's 6'6'' center who was redshirted last year as a sophomore at Frank Phillips College, scored two points during five minutes' play. She stole the ball once and earned one assist. Freshman guard Judith Smith scored four points and grabbed two boards while posting three assists and a steal. Enrica Johnson, who like Edwards is still recovering from an injury, played three minutes.

That they were able to bring some of their newcomers into the game for significant experience pleased the coaching staff, said Tech assistant Linden Weese. "What you do with your minutes is an indication of how many more you get. It's a progression, where the kids show Coach Sharp in practice that they're ready, and then when they get some time in the game, they show her they're ready for more."

Robertson said the contributions from the newcomers – every Lady Raider except one played Thursday night, and all the freshmen except one scored – were a high note in the win. "I think it set the tone for us, and then our bench came out really strong. That's one of the keys, I think, to being a deep team. We can set a pace and when we get into the substitutions, it doesn't change."

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