By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Teams rarely shoot as well against TCU as Texas Tech did in its first round game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship.
The Horned Frogs allowed opponents to shoot better than 40 percent on just six occasions. That defense was a big reason why TCU went from two Big 12 victories last season to eight this season.
The fact that the Lady Raiders made 49 percent Friday night in Chesapeake Energy Arena might have been enough to salvage a lost season with an upset. Instead, it was the same song, 20th verse. No. 7 seed TCU turned a close game into a double-digit advantage and posted a 75-59 victory over No. 10 seed Texas Tech.
“We were able to create enough turnovers to get some offense,” TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. “We moved Chelsea Prince to the front of our zone and we were able to create some havoc.”
Texas Tech, which had lost to TCU by 11 and 15-point margins, was trying to become the first Big 12 team to go winless in conference play and then win a first round game. With Amber Battle (23 points) and Ivonne CookTaylor (18) hitting open shots against the Horned Frogs’ zone, the Lady Raiders led 34-33 at halftime.
With just over 12 minutes remaining, Cook Taylor made a baseline jumper to pull Texas Tech to within 49-48. Over the next eight minutes, the Lady Raiders managed one Battle field goal as TCU took control with an 18-2 run.
“We had our moments where we kind of like let down, which we shouldn't, and that's something we definitely have to work on,” said Cook Taylor, who had a season high in points and scored in double figures for the fifth consecutive game.
On four TCU possessions during the game-changing spurt, the Horned Frogs converted offensive rebounds. TCU had a 21-9 edge in second-chance points and a 36-20 advantage in points in the paint. TCU senior Latricia Lovings, among the nation’s leaders in blocked shots, had a season-high 14 points.
“We did a nice job of battling and being in the ball game,” Texas Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. “We had a big span in the second half where we couldn’t rebound it, get loose balls, get a stop and score on the other end. TCU went on a big run and it was hard to recover after that.”
The Lady Raiders, who committed 14 turnovers, finished the season 6-25 and will carry a 20-game losing streak into next season.
“They've been through a tough year, but they have always continued to fight, and I'm really proud of that,” Whitaker said. “You want to feel like you tried as hard as you could and you left it on the floor. As long as they can look in the mirror and say that, then I think you have a better feeling moving forward.”
TCU (19-13) advances to the quarterfinals and will face No. 2 seed West Virginia (27-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Mountaineers won both regular-season games but each time the margin was just four points.
“I think West Virginia is an outstanding team,” said Mittie, whose team shot 60 percent in the second half against Texas Tech. “The two games we've had have been down to the last four minutes both times. We're not sneaking up on them. They'll be ready to play, I'm sure.”