Second Half Spark Sustains Lady Raiders

<p> "I hope we can go down and play well and have a chance to win it," Lady Raider head coach Marsha Sharp said Saturday night of the upcoming season finale against Baylor. If they win, Texas Tech can claim a share of the Big 12 Conference title.

Her team had just finished beating Oklahoma State University's Cowgirls 65-52 – yet, things about that win didn't satisfy the coach. "I wasn't thrilled with the way we played tonight. I think it's something that we've talked about before, trying to understand coming off big games and coming home to play and making sure we have that same focus that we had on Wednesday (against Oklahoma). Obviously, we didn't have that tonight."

Tech did have junior forward LaToya Davis, junior guard Chesley Dabbs, and senior center Cisti Greenwalt. Davis scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half while raising her rebound total by five; Greenwalt more than doubled her rebounds, and Dabbs sank a crucial long jumper late.

"I think LaToya saved us," Sharp said. "Her emotion and her focus at the end, hitting the three point plays, was what really kept us out of trouble. I thought she made a couple of big-time, big-league plays. We have to have that out of her. She has the athleticism and energy to go make those kinds of plays and certainly she bailed us out tonight in a couple of spots when we needed it."

"Coach Sharp kind of got on me in the first half because I wasn't doing my job and being emotional," Davis said. Not content with being the best field goal shooter in the Big 12, Davis also fires up the Lady Raiders emotionally while lighting up the scoreboard: Saturday night's win over OSU marked Davis' 16th double-figures scoring game of the year. "I think my teammates helped me a lot, and Erin getting me the ball to make three point plays."

"I thought that three that Ches made was kind of the last dagger," Sharp said of the long field goal Dabbs sank at the 1:40 mark. That shot lifted Tech's lead to 63-50, ending a stubborn Cowgirl comeback attempt.

To go with her 11 points, Dabbs' defense kept Nina Stone off balance all night. Stone, perhaps the best player in a Cowgirl uniform since Tricia Skibbe missed all five of her three-point attempts during the game, and eight of 10 for two. OSU's senior point guard averages 14.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game; she has twice tied her school's record for three-point shots with six in a game. Dabbs allowed her only eight points, including four free throws, and two boards.

"Cisti made some great plays on the defensive end, got some big stops, got a couple of blocks late and had a couple of big boards, and those probably were the plays right now that stick out in my mind that gave us a chance to hold them off," Sharp said. "I told her when she walked off the floor that we still have a lot of basketball to play."

The first step comes Thursday night against Baylor. The Bears own the lead in the Big 12 Conference with a 13-2 season record. Tech travels to Waco to face Baylor in the final game of the season.

"I think there were a lot of things in the game that we played here against Baylor that we felt like we could correct, and play better," Sharp said. "We didn't shoot it very well here, and we didn't guard them very well in a couple of positions, and we think we can fix that."

Tech needs to maintain and build on its recent successes, Davis said, to win at Baylor. She and Greenwalt have gained momentum in the last two games that Tech needs for the season finale. "I think it will be really big for us, because Sophia (Young) and Steffanie (Blackmon) are great post players. We have to match their mentality and keep them off the boards. For us to step up like we did today at the end (of the game), and (against) Oklahoma will be good for us."


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