Courtesy of LA Tech Athletic Communications
UTEP 64, Lady Techsters 54
Louisiana Tech women’s basketball fell to UTEP in the Quarterfinals of the Conference USA tournament Thursday, 64-54, despite erasing a 13-point first-half deficit and grabbing a three-point lead in the third.
“We knew it was going to be a battle today,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “Unfortunately, we didn’t make enough plays to finish it. I love how we battled back to erase the first-half deficit and regain the lead, but ultimately, we didn’t get the scores and stops to hold them off late. We knew they would be tough inside today and really hurt us there. Arike was really good for them, and you have to credit her and this UTEP team.”
Keiunna Walker lead the Techsters with 19 points and five rebounds, hitting all nine free-throw attempts. Anna Larr Roberson joined Walker in double figures with 12 points and added four rebounds. Silvia Nativi posted an all-around stat line with four points, six rebounds, three blocks, two assists, and two steals.
In the first, UTEP (20-10, 12-8 C-USA) grabbed a quick 4-2 lead, but a 7-0 run by LA Tech (19-12, 12-8) C-USA) gave the Techsters a 9-4 lead 4:32 into the game. The teams traded buckets over the next four minutes, but the Miners scored the last four of the period to give Tech a 16-15 lead.
Both sides continued to trade blows throughout the second period. After a Keiunna Walker three with 2:45 left in the half to tie the game at 28, UTEP rattled off a 10-0 run to end the first 20 minutes with a 38-28 lead. However, Tech had three buckets taken off the board due to offensive foul calls that left Tech with just one field goal in the final 5:30 of the period.
After UTEP hit a three to start the third stanza and grab their largest lead (41-28), Tech rallied for a 9-0 run to cut the lead to four with 6:12 left in the period. Then, Tech added a 7-0 that included a big three from Walker to regain the lead, 44-43, inside two minutes. After that, Tech would hold UTEP to eight third-quarter points to erase the halftime deficit and send the game into the fourth knotted at 46.
To start the fourth, Walker hit two free throws to give Tech a two-point lead, but the Miners’ 11-4 spurt gave them a five-point edge (57-52) with three minutes remaining. However, Tech could only muster two Walker free throws over the final four minutes as UTEP hit five free throws to pull away over the final stretch.
“I feel like this is a post-season team, and we look forward to potentially getting a chance to continue the season next week with a bid in the WNIT,” said Stoehr.
UTEP scored 40 of their 64 in the paint and picked up 23 big bench points. Tech only mustered 24 in the paint and nine from its bench. The Miners held a slight edge in rebounding (41-38) and hit 25 field goals (25-64, .391) to Tech’s 18 (18-56, .321).
North Texas 74, Bulldogs 46
North Texas showed why they are one of the nation’s stingiest defenses as the Mean Green (26-6) defeated Louisiana Tech (15-18) by a score of 74-46 Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Conference USA Tournament in Frisco.
Tech, 24 hours removed from a grueling overtime win over FIU, simply didn’t have the offense — or the legs — to keep up with the Mean Green as the Bulldogs fell behind by 16 at the half and never recovered.
“I am proud of this team because we had every reason to quit,” said Tech head coach Talvin Hester. “And I do not think we did. I think North Texas just punched us in the mouth and established who they were as the No. 1 scoring defense in the country. At the end of the day, we have to use this experience and understand what it takes to be good in this league. And being good is being good consistently.”
While North Texas was shooting over 50 percent from the field, including hitting eight three-pointers, the Bulldogs shot just 30 percent from the field, including hitting just 2-of-16 three-pointers and only 16-of-29 free throws.
North Texas also outrebounded Tech 43-21.
Aaron Scott led four North Texas players in double figures with 19 points while the Bulldogs were led by freshman Jordan Crawford’s 10 points in the loss.
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