As good as the Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team was in the paint against Southern Miss at home on Thursday night, the Lady Techsters were ineffective inside at USM Saturday night.
As a result, they settled for a split in the Conference USA home-and-home series, with each team defending its house by a double-digit spread.
Tech won by 17 Thursday night at the Thomas Assembly Center on Karl Malone Court, then was outscored 17-5 in the decisive fourth quarter at USM’s Reed Green Coliseum 48 hours later in a 57-44 defeat.
And both were inside jobs.
In its win, USM outpointed the Techsters 36-10 in the paint.
Conversely, Thursday night, Tech won 77-60 in no small part by outrebounding USM, one of the best board teams in the conference, by 35-28, including 20-10 in the second half.
The series split left the Lady Techsters 10-6 overall and breakeven, 5-5, in C-USA action. They’re at home this weekend, hosting North Texas Friday night at 6:30 and Saturday afternoon at 4 in the TAC. UNT, 8-3 overall and 5-1 in the conference, was unable to play its series with Rice last weekend because of Covid-19 issues within the Owls’ program. Rice leads the C-USA West Division with a 6-0 slate while the Mean Green is one game back and in third place in the overall league standings (Middle Tennessee is 9-1 in the East Division) while Tech is tied for sixth in the 14-team loop.
USM rode a three-game win streak into the series, but Raizel Guinto and Bre Harris each scored 19 points and Tech made 49 percent of its shots, steadily pulling away, winning each quarter by modest margins.
But unlike the Techsters’ victory, the Lady Golden Eagles needed an overwhelming fourth quarter to prevail in the rematch. Tech sank just one of its 13 shots in the fourth quarter while USM, just 1-of-11 on 3-pointers entering the final period Saturday, drained a trio of treys in a five-possession span to launch its decisive finish.
The rotten finish was emblematic of an off night offensively for coach Brooke Stoehr’s Techsters, who made just 28 percent of their shots from the floor.
“We weren’t very good offensively. We had some starters struggle and we’re not going to score many points when that happens,” she said. “I didn’t think we were bad defensively. We only gave up 57.”
But 22 points came from USM’s big girl, Kelsey Jones, along with 13 rebounds and five blocked shots. She was held scoreless two nights earlier in Ruston.
Keiunna Walker led Tech with 19 points and six rebounds while Raizel Guinto added 13 points. Amber Amber Dixon pulled down 11 rebounds. The Techsters held their opponent to 61 points or fewer for the ninth time in 10 league outings.
SPRING SPORTS NOTE: Playing their first dual match on campus since the April 2019 tornado, the Lady Techsters tennis team got a 9-7 tiebreaker win from Alexia Romero to post a 4-3 triumph Sunday over Stephen F. Austin.