Buckets by Cisti Greenwalt and Erin Grant set the pace; in the early going, the score slid back and forth on each team's strengths. After running out to an 8-4 lead, the Lady Raiders fell behind by as much as a 15-8 margin when the Cyclones found their three-point range. Alesha Robertson found the range, too, on a rare open look beyond the arc with 13:07 to play that set off the fans' energetic approbation.
Grant and Greenwalt led the attack as Tech demolished the Cyclones' diamond-and-one zone defense; in the second half, junior guard Chesley Dabbs added all 14 of her points, including a pair of treys – a contrast to her scoreless first half that considerably assisted the Lady Raider effort. Similarly, junior forward LaToya Davis increased her point production from four before the half to 12 in the game.
Another contrast came with just under five minutes left, when Greenwalt's defensive skyward move against Cyclone senior Anne O'Neil drew joyous cheers from the crowd but earned a whistle and a foul that should have sent O'Neil to the free-throw line because of the airborne collision.
Before the crowd had time to adjust its response from cheering Greenwalt's play to upbraiding the officials' decision, Tech's starting center and only senior landed – then collapsed to the floor and stayed down.
Silence as of a unanimous indrawn breath swept all sound aside while doctors, trainers, and coaches gathered around her. That breathless silence smothered the arena until staffers lifted Greenwalt to her feet and assisted her to the dressing room.
A fast-rising swell of supportive applause sped toward her, expressing fans' relief as, gingerly, Greenwalt exited. After the game Tech's assistant coach Linden Weese described the injury as a second-degree sprain.
"It's always scary dealing with that part of the leg, and we'll have some things to deal with," head coach Marsha Sharp said, "but it's something she can come back from." That, too, is a contrast: last year, in a game against Missouri, coming down in a similar fashion ended Greenwalt's season with a broken ankle.
Before leaving the game Tuesday night, Greenwalt etched 19 points, nine rebounds, one assist, three blocks, and a steal into the game record. She had Tech's first bucket of the night and was perfect from the charity stripe in three tries.
When play resumed, O'Neil made both free throws, bringing the score to 75-57 in favor of Tech. On the very next play freshman center Erin Myrick scored a bucket inside and drew the fourth foul of the game on ISU's Katie Robinette. Myrick drained the charity shot for a three-point play to give Tech a 78-57 margin.
"Obviously," Iowa State's Bill Fennelly said afterward, "Texas Tech played a phenomenal game tonight. They had a tremendous sense of urgency, coming off the loss and not affording another loss in the conference … We tried about everything. They were better in every category. They were coached better, they played better, they just did everything better."
ISU's senior Anne O'Neil paced the Cyclones' four-guard attack and led all scorers. At the half, she had 11 of Iowa State's 36 points, the only Cyclone in double figures. Six of those points came at the free-throw line. She finished with 23 points including two of three treys and 11 of 12 from the free-throw line while collaring five rebounds; she also had five assists. Katie Robinette hit all four of her free throws and four of 18 from the field for 12 points to go with her 1w rebounds, adding two blocks and one theft. Mary Fox missed both field goals. Lyndsey Medders connected for one field goal in four tries; Megan Ronhovde hit three of five from the floor including two treys out of three tries and Lisa Kreiner sank all five of her field goals, including both her threes, while collecting four boards. Brittany Wilkins hit two of her four attempts.
"To be tied for first in the conference after this many games is huge for us," Sharp said. "We have so much respect for Iowa State, and for the things they run at you. I really like their team. I like the way they shoot it, and I think Robinette doe a nice job.
"It's fun, from a coaching perspective, to have a game plan and have it followed as well as they did tonight," she said. "I thought Erin (Grant)'s mentality, and the way she led us, was outstanding.
"The longer the game went on, the more shots we found. I thought Dabbs played a great second half. I thought Greenwalt played well against Robinette; she had to go out and guard her further away from the basket than she may like to do. I thought we stopped them, one-on-one, a little bit and she didn't have to seal (the inside) for us."
Not only had the starters' play proven one of the better offensive efforts of the season, she said, but also the effort from the bench against Iowa State was strong and even.
"Judith Smith played an excellent game for us, particularly early," she said. "My favorite play might be the steal she had and the pass to Erin. She really gives us a tremendous lift, and provides us with a real spark … it gives us a chance to rotate through the whole lineup, and for players like Chesley and Alesha (Robertson) to rest a little bit. When Brooke came in for Erin, I thought she did a nice job of letting Erin have some long media timeouts."
She also commended freshmen Erin Myrick and Darrice Griffin. "All four of those players do tremendous things," she said, "and they're getting better every day."
Myrick's jumper from just beyond the free-throw line in the first half added another threat to the Tech arsenal. In an even dozen minutes, she had six points, two rebounds and a block.
"Tech just has too many weapons," Fennelly noted. "At halftime, we were still in it. We were down by three, and I thought we had a chance. Their defense just locked us down in the second half, and their offense was tremendously efficient. Their kids had some courage to step up and take some shots, and they were able to make the shots. They have a great atmosphere here, and the crowd really energizes them. We just had no answer for so many of the things they did."
"I'm excited that we won. It's good to win at home again, and it's good to get back into first place," said Grant, who scored a season-high 19 points in the game.
"I didn't hit the shots I wanted against Baylor," she said. "I felt like I needed to contribute on the offense, and we knew they were going to run junk defenses at us. I came out feeling confident and relaxed, and took my open jumpers, and that opened up my perimeter shots."
Tech collected 36 rebounds in the game while limiting the Cyclones to 28; Lady Raider shooting percentages were high throughout the game. Tech hit 17 of 31 from the field in the first half and 20 of 35 in the second; the Lady Raiders hit two treys in six attempts in the first half and sank four of six from three-point country in the second half, while the Cyclones hit seven of their 16 down range tries in the game.
Tech's Davis appeared to be recovering well from her knee sprain, pulling down six rebounds and scoring 12 points. She set a career assist record with half a dozen dishes and had one steal in her 26 minutes of play; Robertson hit two of four from the field including one of two from beyond the arc and garnered four boards, one assist and two steals in 30 minutes. Greenwalt hit eight of 14 from the field, playing 27 minutes. Dabbs made the most of her second-half playing time; in 31 minutes she hit six of 11 from the field and both her treys, collared three rebounds, distributed three assists and stole the ball twice. Grant played 33 minutes, hitting eight of 11 from the field, two of three from long range, and one of two charity shots. She added four rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals, giving Tech a double-double with 19 points.
Sophomore point guard Brooke Baughman hit the only shot she took, a three, in seven minutes; she also had one rebound. Freshman Judith Smith hit four of eight from the field and finished with four boards, eight points, three assists and one steal in her 17 minutes on the floor to lead her class. Darrice Griffin hit one of four from the floor, one of three from the line, snagged two rebounds, and had one block and one steal in 16 minutes, but Griffin spent those minutes hunting scoring opportunities along the baseline and down the middle, wearing down the Cyclones inside. Tawanna Flowers also played.
Tech outscored ISU in the paint 38-14, considerably helped by Greenwalt; while Tech gave away 10 turnovers in the game, the Cyclones gave away control 17 times. Tech made twice as many points off those miscues, 24-12, as ISU. Lady Raider shooters knocked down 16 second-chance points, while the Cyclones managed only seven. Tech's eight fast-break points also outnumbered Iowa State's single bucket.
Tech travels to Austin to play Texas February 13; Iowa State's next game is at Nebraska on Saturday.