Lady Raiders Invite Lions to USA

Overtime proved unkind to the Lady Raiders Sunday. Tuesday night, when Tech takes the court against an unranked opponent for the third time in five days, look for some reparations to the things that went awry as Tech came up one point short of a victory in Las Vegas. Virginia Tech's 71-70 overtime upset dropped the Lady Raiders to 6-2 for the year.

Penn State comes to the contest fresh from a victory over Old Dominion that raised the Lady Lions' record to 5-4. Standout Tanisha Wright led all scorers in the game with 23 points during the Nittany Lions' 76-68 triumph Sunday, which marked Penn State head Coach Rene Portland's return to the home team's bench from a medical leave she began November 22. Sunday's win elevates her career record to 649 wins, 562 of which have come at Penn State, where she marks her silver anniversary this season. She has taken the Lady Lions to the National Collegiate Athletic Association 20 times and they have appeared in the Final 4 once.

Point guard Jess Strom added 20 points, continuing a streak in which the backcourt duo has combined for an average of 49 percent of all Penn State's points this season. So far, they had their best day together came against Texas, when they contributed a total of 48 points.

Wright's team-leading season average is 22.2 points, currently tops in the Big 10 conference. For the last four games in a row, she has scored at least 20 points. On Sunday, the cold-shooting Lady Lions had help from Jennifer Brenden's two three-pointers in the first half; with Wright's aerobatic moves and a plethora of turnovers courtesy of a full court press, Penn State led at the half 41-30.

The teams have met twice previously; Tech won the most recent match.

Likely starters for the Lady Lions will be Wright and Strom, who lead the Big 10 in scoring and assists respectively, fifth-year senior Brenden, senior Ashli Schwab, who snagged seven boards against Old Dominion, and sophomore Amanda Brown, who leads the team in blocked shots with an even dozen. Strom has 697 career assists coming into the game. Penn State is averaging almost 72 points per game behind Wright and Strom; they are holding opposition scores to an average of 70.6.

The Lady Lions' relief squad includes Lisa Etienne, who averages 4.3 minutes per game; Romana Vynuchalova; Adrienne Squire, Hazel Joseph, Amber Bland and Jennifer Harris. The Penn State defense has given its team a 1.2 point positive differential average through nine games this year; they are hitting .305 from beyond the arc as a team on 36 of 118 attempts and .777 from the charity stripe, sinking 150 of 193 tries. For the season, the Lady Lions have a one-rebound advantage over opponents with a 335 to 334 total; Penn State averages giving up 14.4 turnovers per contest while benefiting from 15.8.

Tech goes into the game on a one-day rest. Currently Alesha Robertson leads the team in scoring at 17.7 despite a well-below-average showing Sunday. Senior Cisti Greenwalt garnered Most Valuable Player honors at the Duel in the Desert tourney; junior guard Chesley Dabbs and Robertson also earned spots on the all-tournament team.

Tech won its first-round contest over Arkansas State Saturday. Greenwalt scored back-to-back double-doubles with 10 points and 12 rebounds in the Arkansas State game and 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Virginia Tech. She tied her season-high game seven blocks in that contest as well, setting a venue record for the Cox Pavilion. LaToya Davis had a season-high 23 points in the game to lead all scorers; Dabbs added 14 points, but the team as a whole shot 37.5 percent.

Virginia Tech's Carrie Mason scored a team-high 12 points Sunday as the Hokies' record rose to 7-2.

Texas Tech's next home game is against Sacramento State on December 28.


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