Davis scored a game-high 26 points and yanked down 14 rebounds, seven of them on offense, to advance Tech into the second round of NCAA tournament play in Dallas. The Big 12's most accurate field goal shooter all season, Davis hit 11 of 14 for the night, stole the ball three times, and blocked two shots during a 36-minute performance best described as absolutely dominant.
UT-Arlington head coach Donna Capps said after the game, "We were extremely pleased with our performance during the first half of play. … The momentum changed a little bit in the second half, and the type of play became more physical. When it became more physical, it was to Tech's advantage."
"I thought UTA did a good job of trying to disrupt things that we wanted to do tonight," said Sharp. "We told our players before we left Lubbock that we were probably going to have to play ugly tonight because (UTA) were going to make it that way with their defense because of how strong they are. I think they did a great job. "They have a lot of quickness on the perimeter," she said. "They have a lot of quickness in the post area that we had a hard time in defending, particularly in the first half."
A critical match-up inside developed early – and looked to be going UT-Arlington's way as six-foot forward Rola Ogunoye ducked, bobbed, spun and scored six quick points against Texas Tech's six-five Cisti Greenwalt. Greenwalt won the opening jump and swung the ball to Erin Grant, Tech's junior point guard; a series of passes put the ball through every Lady Raider's hands only to end in a miss; Terra Wallace corralled the loose ball for the Mavericks and sent a fast pass back to Ogunoye, who converted neatly.
Tech tied the ballgame on a Greenwalt bucket; Ogunoye swapped scores with Lady Raider junior guard Chesley Dabbs, but on the next Maverick possession Ashley Bobb – formerly a walk-on at Tech – missed a jumper. With the ball back, Tech thundered down court and Greenwalt tucked away the lay-up for the first lead of the night, 6-4.
Moments later Tech's sole senior turned in her first blocked shot of the game, but UTA's Tamesha Graves snagged the loose ball and sizzled a pass to Wallace. She missed; Davis fished the rebound out of the open sky but landed in a crowd of Mavericks, and the jump-ball call gave possession to UTA. Ogunoye missed, got her own rebound, and scored to tie the game at six points per team with 17:01 left in the first half.
On the far end Texas Tech sophomore forward Alesha Robertson earned her first personal foul of the night in a tussle over a rebound; Wallace's shot went awry and Robertson boarded again, this time in a crowd of bright-blue uniforms. Among them officials identified Graves for a foul, sending Robertson to the line. Her made pair of charity shots put the Lady Raiders ahead by two; on the ensuing possession, Dabbs swiped the ball and swung it to Davis underneath. Davis drained the goal at the 15:40 mark to send Tech ahead to stay.
An exchange of turnovers later, freshman forward Darrice Griffin came in for Tech to let Greenwalt recoup; a Maverick shot went awry and Davis picked up another board. Her pass to Griffin was on target -- and so was Tojjinay Thompson. The former Plainview Bulldog's defense earned her a personal foul and sent Griffin to the line. Griffin's first shot went awry but the second sank true.
Off the following inbounds a Maverick shot went wide; Bobb rebounded and stuck the follow up shot to bring UTA back within three, but Robertson needed mere seconds to answer from beyond the arc and Tech led 14-8. Dabbs rebounded a Maverick miss only to have Tabitha Wesley strip her dribble away, but Wesley's shot went wide.
Tech's Erin Grant came out of nowhere to pull down the rebound and feed Dabbs an outlet pass. Her bucket gave the Lady Raiders twice as many points as the Mavericks, who asked for a timeout.
"We tried to make some adjustments at half time, to double the post players a little bit more," Sharp said. "We also tried to run some different sets at them, to try and keep them guessing a little bit about where we were going to be."
That strategy paid off – Tech's opening gambit in the second half stretched to a 13-6 run, with many of the points coming via Davis' open shots behind the UTA defenders. Others, like her lay-in off a steal and fast break with 14:20 to go, came from smart physical play. Davis drew a foul and sank a free throw to complete that play and put Tech ahead, 48-35.
Davis explained her success in the second half. "The way they were playing, on the screens they were covering out, so I could go behind them. I give credit to Erin (Grant) for delivering the ball great so I'd have a wide-open shot."
"The difference in the two halves, I think," Grant said, "was that we got more aggressive and got more things that we liked in the second half. We got a lot of hits off LaToya coming off screens, and getting really easy lay-ups."
Tech will meet Middle Tennessee State University's Lady Raiders Monday night at approximately 8:30. The winner of that game advances to the Sweet 16.
For the Mavericks, Graves finished with two boards and two fouls in 11 minutes; Bobb played 25 minutes, collected four fouls, scored 14 points, and snagged six boards plus one steal. Ogunoye – one of two seniors UTA head coach Donna Capps referred to as the foundation of her program – finished a 38-minute performance with 19 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 7-for-17 from the field and a perfect five from the charity stripe, stealing the ball twice and blocking one shot. Wesley put up three attempts, sinking none; she had four boards and two steals in 40 minutes on the floor. Wallace hit 5-of-17 from the field and had three boards, six turnovers, a block, and a steal to go with her 11 points. Thompson played three minutes; Krystal Buchanan – the other of Capps' foundation players – spent 26 minutes on the floor, amassing three boards, three points, three assists, and a steal, as well as hitting one of two free throws. Tiffeny Riles hit the only shot she tried in eight minutes; Melanie Lane's seven minutes earned her two fouls, and Aleshia White appeared briefly for UTA.
Tech's defense held the Mavericks to 33.3 percent shooting for the game; the Mavericks sank 12 of 34 tries before intermission, but only eight of 26 after.
Tech's Davis hit 11 of 14 shots from the field, 4 of 7 from the line, collected four rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Robertson added 10 points, as did Dabbs; Robertson hit a free throw and the lone trey she tried while yanking down a half-dozen boards. She provided two assists and a block in 31 minutes. Dabbs hit five of 11 from the field, snagged three rebounds, dished out four assists, and stole the ball once.
Freshmen Tawanna Flowers, Judith Smith, Darrice Griffin and Erin Myrick all entered the game; while Smith played 10 minutes and had two boards, Myrick played seven minutes and scored two points while collaring a pair of rebounds. Flowers put in a minute, while Griffin hit both her field goal attempts and two of four from the line in a 13-minute performance.
Monday night Texas Tech meets Middle Tennessee State University at approximately 8:30 p.m. in Reunion Arena. MTSU's team -- also called the Lady Raiders -- upset North Carolina State's Wolfpack immediately before the Texas Tech match Saturday night, 60-58. In the two other games in the Dallas preliminaries, No. 6 Georgia eliminated No. 11 Rice 75-49 and No. 3 Texas defeated No. 14 Oral Roberts, 64-47.