Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications
Louisiana Tech women’s basketball team responded in a big way at home with a 79-74 win over Rice behind three Techsters in double-figures, including a season-high 26 from Keiunna Walker, who also tied a season-high with seven rebounds.
Salma Bates and Amaya Brannon added 15 points each. Bates posted five assists with just one turnover.
In a back-and-forth first five minutes, Bates hit a three to give Tech their first lead of the night, 9-8. Rice’s Ashlee Austin would immediately answer on a layup, but that would be Rice’s last bucket of the quarter as Tech finished on an 11-0 run to take a 20-10 lead after one.
“Rice is a really solid team and are a tough match-up for us,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “We got off to a really good start but let them back in it in the second quarter with some live ball turnovers that led to easy buckets in transition for them.”
Tech would continue the run into the second quarter with five quick points from Walker to build a 25-10 lead before Rice ended a near seven-minute drought. After Tech built its largest lead of the game, at 16-point (30-17), Rice responded with an 9-3 run over the next 3:30 to cut the lead to seven, 33-26, with 4 minutes remaining in the half, but the Techsters finished the last two minutes of the half plus-one to take a 38-30 lead into the break.
After four quick points for LA Tech to start the third, Rice created a 10-3 stretch to cut Tech’s lead to five, 45-40, but was quickly extended back to 10 with 4:21 left in the third (50-40) off a Gabbie Green three-pointer.
During a three-minute Techster drought, Rice would cut the lead to just two, but “Buzzer Beater” Bates would finish the quarter on a 5-0 run of her own, including a three as time expired, to push the lead back to five (55-50) after three.
“Salma was great for us tonight and got us into the offense,” said Stoehr. “When we move the ball the ball and get multiple sides of the floor it opens things up for Lotte and Gabbie which then gives Keiunna great driving lanes.”
Rice began the final stanza with two made free throws and a layup, but a 7-2 stretch for Tech extended their lead back to eight, 62-54, with 6:25 remaining.
In the fourth, Rice was held without a basket for over six minutes, but nine Owl free throws during the span kept Rice within striking distance with under three to play, 68-63.
Rice ended their field goal drought in the final minute with three straight buckets to cut the lead to four, 75-71. Walker pushed the lead back to six with two more free throws, but Rice answered with a three from Austin. An ensuing Rice foul sent Brannon to the line in a three-point game for two shots, who was able to connect on both to ice the game.
Tech finished the night 26-51 from the field for 51 percent, including a season-high nine made threes on 9-16 shooting (.563). Tech also hit 18-22 from the line, including eight of their final ten down the stretch.
Rice also shot it well, 42.6 percent of 23-54 and an 8-21 night from three for .381, and had a plus-two advantage from the line going 20-24 (.833). The Owls ended the night with five players in double figures, led by Austin’s team-high 18.
With the win, Tech is now 2-2 in C-USA play for the second time in three years and sits just two wins in Ruston away from No. 600.
The Lady Techsters will travel to UTEP Saturday.
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