Tech Tames Tigers 75-45

"We thought we were still within striking distance at the half," University of Missouri women's basketball head coach Cindy Stein said after the game. "Then they took it to a whole other level in the second half, and we got steamrollered."

Texas Tech's Lady Raiders defeated Stein's Tigers 75-45 Wednesday night at United Spirit Arena in front of an announced crowd of 11,368.

While Missouri drops to 1-6 in Big 12 play, Tech's 6-1 record matches Kansas State at the top of the conference. The Lady Raiders are 15-3 for the season, and the Tigers are 7-11.

The game got off to a slow start for both teams; LaToya Davis, Tech's junior forward, opened the contest with a bucket.

Davis would, after 19 minutes' play, leave the contest limping. Lady Raider Head Coach Marsha Sharp said Davis had been having trouble with her knee for several days. "I hope LaToya will be fine; we should know something for sure in a little while, we'll have her go over and get an examination. She played great, and we need her energy and athleticism."

With Davis, the Lady Raiders' inside attack was very strong; without her, freshman Darrice Griffin provided help for Tech's post game. Against Kansas State University the inside game left something to be desired, but against the Tigers Tech's inside game provided a 34-24 advantage in the paint. The Lady Raiders pulled down 11 more rebounds than Missouri. Tech's senior starter Cisti Greenwalt brought down 14 boards, 11 of them on defense, to go with her game-high 20 points.

Early on aggressive rebounding helped Missouri stay in the ball game with Tech; at the 7:46 mark, they led the rebounding contest 13-9. The Tigers' first point came when Tiffany Brooks, Missouri's sophomore guard, sank the second of her free throws.

Tech led 2-1, but fell behind 3-2 after junior guard Chesley Dabbs fouled Brooks. Both those free throws touched nothing but net, and the score remained 3-2 at the 15:45 mark. Following a media timeout Missouri's junior center, Christelle N'Garsanet, stretched the Tigers' lead to 5-2.

Lady Raider point guard Erin Grant sank two points to answer at 14:51. The junior's success seemed to break a spell: Missouri had missed five from the field and one from the line while Tech had seen eight attempts fail – three of them from the hands of sophomore forward Alesha Robertson. Brooke Baughman, another sophomore, swapped in for Robertson. N'Garsanet hit from inside again, but a Chesley Dabbs assist put Greenwalt in position to answer.

Missouri stayed stubborn on defense throughout the first half; the lead changed hands six times before the 11:00 mark, when Missouri's Megan Roney blocked Baughman's shot. N'Garsanet grabbed the rebound and went flying down court to score, cutting Tech's largest lead of the game back to one at 14-13.

EeTisha Riddle, Missouri's 6-3 sophomore forward, fouled Robertson under the bucket o the other end; Robertson sank both free throws to put the Lady Raiders back up 16-13. Missouri's LaToya Bond sank a lay-up, and N'Garsanet deftly relieved Tech's Griffin of the ball a few steps later, but Riddle couldn't convert that turnover into Tiger points.

Brooks took advantage of half her free throws after Dabbs fouled to tie the game for a second time, knotting the score at 16 points with 9:26 left in the first half. Roney pushed the Tigers ahead, 18-16, but when Riddle's shot from three-point country bounced off the back iron Robertson muscled in to snatch away the ball.

She fed Grant, whose pass to Greenwalt enabled a fast-break lay-up that knotted the score again. A pair of Savant turnovers and four misses later, Bond tied it again on the second free throw after Grant's foul, but Roney crashed into Griffin underneath the Tech bucket.

Griffin's free throws sailed through the net with silken effortlessness, putting the Lady Raiders ahead to stay. Her two points opened the door for a 15-2 Tech run over the next six minutes; Baughman, Greenwalt from the field and the charity stripe, and Robertson's first field goal of the night contributed to Tech's assault on the score.

Robertson's three came from just in front of the Tech bench off a spectacular assist by Griffin, who had rebounded Baughman's missed trey and somehow stayed inbounds then sprung back toward the rim as though made of rubber. Instead of throwing down the follow-up shot she appeared intent upon, the 6-1 forward twisted in midair to dodge a Tiger defender and sail the ball out to Robertson as the shot clock wound down. Robertson arced the ball right back through the net to send Tech into the locker room leading 35-22.

"We felt pretty good at the half, except for that three," Missouri's coach Stein said after the game. "(Robertson) is such a great player. I love watching her play."

She said her team had expected to face a challenge from the Lady Raiders' post game. "I thought coming in they'd want to do that … We wanted to make it so that when they tried to go into the post, we would make them have to pass it five or six times.

"We succeeded at that, but they're tough when they're running the floor, and they're just so active," Stein said. "Their size in the post is a factor, but I would tell you their athleticism is the key. LaToya Davis can move. She's a great player.

"Greenwalt just keeps getting better and faster and more athletic every year; she's better now than she was two years ago, or even last year. (Tech) brings in these great athletes, too, and then they get better – their first steps are really quick. You see that with Robertson – her first step is a lot quicker than last year."

By halfway through the second half the Tigers' rotation – Bond and Brooks played 37 and 38 minutes, respectively; N'Garsanet spent 28 minutes in the game and Savant 31, while Blair Hardiek played for 26 – had stopped allowing Missouri's players to catch their breath completely. Freshman Kassie Drew spent just seven minutes on the floor, while junior forward Cherice Mack played for nine. Megan Roney, Missouri's 6-3 senior center, spent 12 minutes matching up against Tech's Greenwalt or freshman Erin Myrick, and Riddle gave the Tigers a 12-minute performance as well.

Upon Missouri's second-half inbounds pass, Greenwalt swiped the ball from Brooks to give Tech another chance to score. Savant fouled Davis, whose first free throw went awry, but the second extended Tech's lead to 36-22.

A couple of Tigers missed, giving Greenwalt a block and Dabbs a quick rebound; N'Garsanet blocked Davis' next attempt. Brooks yanked down the rebound for the Tigers, but when Savant missed, Robertson snatched back the rebound. Her pass put the ball in Dabbs' hands for a Tech score. Missouri couldn't make its next attempt, nor the second-chance shot N'Garsanet's rebound offered. Greenwalt grabbed the ball out of the air and fed Davis for two, and Tech had an 18-point advantage with 16:56 to go.

From Missouri's point of view things deteriorated steadily after that; Hardiek and Brooks missed, but Robertson and Davis converted baskets; Roney fouled Robertson on a fast-break; Robertson went to the line for a free throw that didn't go. Greenwalt picked up the rebound and Roney fouled again, this time impeding the Lady Raiders' Davis. Davis hit both from the line; Savant missed at the other end and Greenwalt brought down another rebound, turning it around into a bucket of her own. Two misfires later Bond turned a steal into Tiger points and the score, with 14:11 left in the game, stood at 48-24.

The Lady Raiders turned to Dabbs, Robertson, Greenwalt, and freshman guard Judith Smith at the charity stripe to extend their lead to 56-27 at 10:57. Tech never let Missouri get closer than 25 points again.

For the Tigers, N'Garsanet collected seven boards and 10 points; Savant added three points and seven rebounds, Bond eight points and five boards. Brooks led Missouri with 15 points, adding four boards; Drew had one point, Roney four, Mack and Riddle a bucket apiece in the game; Hardiek had a scoreless night. The Tigers blocked five shots, stole the ball six times, and gave up 14 turnovers. Their half-a-dozen assists, four from Bond, matched the total of their three-point attempts for the night. Savant sank the only three the Tigers scored.

Collectively, Missouri shot 16 for 55 from the field and 12 of 19 from the free throw line, collaring 34 rebounds – 21 of them defensive – and 17 personal fouls.

Texas Tech had a better night all the way around, with Greenwalt picking up her eighth double-double of the season and the 18th of her career. She played 30 minutes, blocked five shots, stole the ball three times and had two assists to go with 14 boards and 20 points, hitting a perfect four from the charity stripe.

"I played terrible against Kansas State," Greenwalt said. "I think the last couple of games I've been in a slump. This week we've practiced the post-to-post a lot, and it really showed tonight. I think it really helped us be ready to attack the basket and be able to go up strong. I knew I needed to come out tonight and step up."

"Cisti played great night," Sharp said during post-game interviews. "She dominated the middle of the floor for us, and on offense (Missouri) didn't have an answer for her."

Saturday's post play had been disappointing, she acknowledged. "I don't know that we really challenged them this week, but we talked about being more aggressive with the ball, and tried to get them to face the basket. They really made an effort this week to correct a couple of things we'd seen (from the Kansas State game). It's not about the defense, they've played great defense the whole time … we have to get them a chance to catch the ball and score."

"(Saturday) against Kansas state we didn't take advantage of our post players," she said. "We knew we had to get more points inside, maybe get ourselves to the free throw line a little more."

"Darrice had some huge minutes for us tonight," she said. "LaToya really attacked the basket, and got us off to a great start and kept scoring on the block."

Sharp also noted a marked improvement in Griffin's charity shooting – the freshman, who has had problems with free throws this season, hit seven of eight Wednesday.

"We spend a lot of tie on free throws in practice," Griffin said. "Coach Sharp has been really great at picking out the little things that kept me from making them."

"You always think, a lot of times, during a player's freshman year, there's a time when a light comes on," Sharp said. "With Darrice, it's on. … For about the last ten days we've been seeing it … She's a lot more aggressive with the ball."

Griffin added, "When you attack the basket you're going to get fouled. I have a problem of thinking too much, and I've been trying to relax more and just get into the flow with the rest of the team." Something's gone right: she finished the night with nine points and seven rebounds, playing 21 minutes off the bench. Griffin turned in two assists, a block, and a steal as well before Patrice Edwards came in for her with two minutes to go.

Robertson's 31-minute performance included 13 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Davis finished with 11 points, two boards, and two assists; Dabbs played 21 minutes and earned six points, three boards, and one assist to go with two steals.

Grant gave the Lady Raiders 32 minutes, five assists, four points, two boards, and a steal. Baughman, who spent time on the floor at the wing to allow Dabbs as well as Robertson a rest, and time at point guard to rest Grant, played 23 minutes, hit four of five free throws and two of seven field goals. Freshmen Tawanna Flowers, Judith Smith, and Erin Myrick combined for 23 minutes in the second half. Smith had two free throws, an assist, and a steal; Flowers had a rebound, and Myrick had four boards, two points and a steal. Patrice Edwards played the final two minutes at forward.

Tech finished the night shooting 43.3 percent with 14 fouls, 17 assists, nine turnovers, six blocks, nine steals, and 45 rebounds. The Lady Raiders hit one of five attempts beyond the arc and 26 of 60 overall, with 22 of 26 free throw attempts converting.

Missouri hosts Texas Saturday morning at 11 a.m. while the Lady Raiders visit Texas A&M for a 2 p.m. Saturday game.

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