Title on the Line

<p>In a game that promises to be a clash between finesse and physicality as well as a contest between two coaching styles that could scarcely be more divergent, Texas Tech's Lady Raider basketball team contends for a conference title share at 7 p.m. Thursday night in Waco.

Latching onto a third of the Big 12 Conference crown will be no easy task. Tech last claimed even part of the championship after the 1999-2000 season, when the Lady Raiders split with the Iowa State Cyclones and the Oklahoma Sooners, all of whom finished 13-3.

"This is the best team I've ever played on," Tech senior Cisti Greenwalt said after her team manhandled Oklahoma State, 65-52, Saturday night. Yet, this team lost to Baylor earlier this season, at home. In that game the Bears held Greenwalt to five points, a block, and a rebound. Greenwalt is currently the school and the league's best shot-blocker both for the year, with 90 blocks this season, and in her career, with 195 at the end of her junior year. Tech teams she has played on featured strong showings in the conference, in the Big 12 Tournament, and three consecutive NCAA Division I postseason tournaments.

"I hope we can go down there and play well and have a chance to win," head coach Marsha Sharp said Saturday. She has won at least 20 games in the last 16 consecutive seasons, and in her 23 years at Tech's helm has produced 20 seasons with 20 wins en route to a 554-172 overall mark. Her team has a baker's dozen more victories in the Big 12 Conference than any other team; Tech has 109 wins in Big 12 play, Baylor 79.

The Bears are 13-2 in Big 12 play, all alone at the top of the league and unbeaten on their home court. National polls rank the Bears at No. 7/8. For the first time in Big 12 Conference history, the Bears own at least a share of the conference championship. Two Baylor players – Steffanie Blackmon and Sophia Young – are candidates for the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award. Young's average is barely below a double-double at 17.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Blackmon, who trails closely at 16.2 points and 8.3 rebounds, owns Baylor's all-time shot-blocking record at 153.

Baylor's fifth-year head coach is Kim Mulkey-Robertson, whose career record is 121-38. During their last game, the Bears beat the University of Colorado 84-64, powered by freshman Emily Niemann's 20 points. Baylor has a 23-3 overall record while Tech is 21-5.

Texas Tech, ranked No. 13/14 in the AP/USA Today polls, has three conference losses – two at home, including one to the Bears – and is tied for second with the University of Texas at 12-3. Junior point guard Erin Grant is a candidate for the Lieberman Award for the year's best point guard. Greenwalt leads the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game. She has scored in double figures 19 times this year, leading the team in that category as well as in double-doubles, a feat she has achieved 10 times this season and 20 times at Tech.

The Fox Sports Network will broadcast the game with commentary by Kevin Eschenfelder and Brenda VanLangen. On the radio, the All Sports Radio Network will carry the game live, with Ryan Hyatt calling the action.


Raider Power Top Stories