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Texas Tech Celebrates Title Anniversary With Win
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By Wendell Barnhouse | wendell@big12sports.com
Big12Sports.com Correspondent

LUBBOCK, Texas - Celebrating history can also honor the here and now. For Texas Tech, Sunday was perfect confluence of the past and the present.

It was 20 years ago today coach Marsha Sharp and her band began to play. The Lady Raiders posted a seminal victory at Texas - at that time, the apex of women's college basketball in the old Southwest Conference.

That was the first of 19 consecutive victories that ended with an 84-82 triumph over Ohio State in the national championship game as Sheryl Swoopes - two decades ago, she was the small forward version of Brittney Griner - scored 47 points, a NCAA women's title game record that still stands.

The dates aligned nicely Sunday. With the Longhorns in town to face the current version of the Lady Raiders, the school honored the 20th anniversary of the national championship that put Texas Tech, Lubbock and West Texas on the national radar.

Coach Kristy Curry and her players did not fail their honored predecessors nor the 8,971 who showed up at United Spirit Arena. The Lady Raiders made it a weekend of memories worth remembering with a tough-as-nails 69-62 victory over Texas.

The victory moved the Lady Raiders (19-7, 9-5) into a second-place tie with Iowa State in the jam-packed, topsy-turvy, everybody-but-Baylor Big 12 standings.

Those watching in person or on television might have been a tad confused by the uniforms. Texas wore its home whites while Texas Tech was wearing road black duds - actually, throw backs that replicated the unis the Lady Raiders won in the national championship game.

The Longhorns still played like an inexperienced team in a hostile arena. Texas committed 24 turnovers and Texas Tech converted those errors into 26 game-changing points.

"The game boiled down to Texas Tech's experienced guards making big plays and they were really good down the stretch," said first-year coach Karen Aston. "Their pressure on the ball forced some mistakes by our inexperienced guards."

The Lady Raiders, though, started each half as if they never left the locker room. Texas jumped to an early 9-2 lead and still had control (a 19-14 advantage) with 8:53 remaining. The Lady Raiders went on a 15-0 run that helped produce a 36-27 halftime lead.

Texas Tech started the second half with its offense in the freezer, missing its first nine shots. The Longhorns (9-15, 2-11) took advantage with a 16-1 run capped that spanned halftime. Chassidy Fussell's 3-pointer gave UT a 38-37 lead with 13:12 remaining.

The Lady Raiders lifted the lid on the basket with Casey Morris answering Fussell with a three. The offense went from the freezer to the microwave and Texas Tech made eight of its next 11 shots. The biggest was Kelsi Baker's desperation 25-foot 3-pointer to beat the shot clock.

"We're proud to walk in the footsteps of the 1993 team and we're really glad they came back for this weekend," Curry said. "And I'm proud of my team for finishing the weekend the right way with a win. Good teams find the little things that help you win and our kids did that today."

Chynna Brown, who joined the 1,000-point club (1,001), led the way with 16. She had three consecutive baskets during the Red Raiders' clinching run. Morris finished with 15 and Baker had 14 while setting some crunching screens to allow Brown and Morris to get free for mid-range jump shots.

In 1993, Texas was the last team to beat the Lady Raiders. Texas Tech's first-ever victory in Austin on Feb. 17, 1993 jump started an incredible finish to the season. The Lady Raiders beat their final 19 foes by an average of 24 points per game, averaging 88.8 points per game and scoring 100 points or more six times.

Sunday's victory over the Longhorns assured Texas Tech of finishing no worse than .500 and the nine Big 12 victories are the most for the program since the 2005-06 season.

"We're waking up every day and our goal is not to finish second or third, it's to win championships," Curry said. "That's why these kids came to Tech. We're going to continue to pursue that.

"I think the most important thing this team has done is saying 'What can we control today? Let's have the best possible day we possibly can,' and (they) really have matured."

Sunday was about the past but for the modern-day Lady Raiders, it was also about the present and the future.

 

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