Bright, Roberson lead Techsters to win over LSUA
RUSTON – Making the first collegiate starts of their respective careers, sophomore Keiunna Walker and freshman Anna Larr Roberson led Louisiana Tech to a 93-61 win over LSU-Alexandria Thursday afternoon at the Thomas Assembly Center.
Playing before an announced crowd of 5,573 fans – most of those elementary school children who were in attendance as part of the Education Day Game – some of the Lady Techsters youngsters spearheaded the victory.
In addition to Roberson and Walker’s big days, freshman Lotte Sant added 15 points on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Veteran Grayson Bright joined Roberson in the double double club with 20 points and 13 rebounds, her sixth double double of her Tech career.
The win was far from perfect but Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr knows it was a valuable experience for her young team.
“We got a lot of people some minutes,” said Stoehr. “We were really nervous today. It looked like we were so nervous we couldn’t move at times. We have to get over that. We defend the guys in practice all the time with a lot more energy and effort. We will grow and we will get better. That’s part of the process with this group.”
Tech (1-0) overcame a sluggish start that saw it trail 26-22 in the opening minute of the second quarter to pull away for the season opening victory over the NAIA Generals (0-1).
“I thought we did some really nice things in terms of getting some looks,” said Stoehr. “Defensively, we created some turnovers that led to some easy baskets for us. But I was disappointed in the way we defended in the first quarter; I just didn’t think we had much about us. I thought we stood around and watched a lot. Some of that is inexperience but we had some returners out there and they have to be better for us.”
LSU-Alexandria dressed only seven players – three sat due to injuries – and its tallest player was 5-foot-10 Kendriana Washington, who played only 14 minutes before fouling out in the fourth quarter. However, the Generals never backed down, shooting 57 percent from the field in the opening quarter to take a 24-22 lead at the end of the first.
“Sometimes when you play a team that doesn’t have a lot of size and you have to ask your four player to come out and guard the perimeter, that can throw you off a little bit,” said Stoehr. “I didn’t feel like we were quick to lose balls. I didn’t feel like we did a lot of those little things that I expect. We will watch it on film and clean it up.”
Brittany Hall’s jumper just 12 seconds into the second quarter gave LSU-Alexandria a 26-22 lead. Tech answered, using an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to take a 33-26 advantage. Sophomore Amber Hawkison’s conventional three-point play started the run.
After LSU-A cut the Tech lead to 35-33 on a Ciera Daniel’s bucket with just over three minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Lady Techsters responded again. A pair of Roberson layups bookended an 11-2 run that ended the quarter and gave Tech a 46-35 advantage. Roberson finished with 10 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 1 steal in 20 minutes of action.
“Honestly, Anna Larr has led us in efficiency every day in practice and she is our overall efficiency leader,” said Stoehr. “That’s something you don’t see very often from a freshman. She has earned her minutes. I think for 20 minutes, 10 points and 14 rebounds is not bad no matter who you play. She missed a few easy ones that I know she would want back, but took care of the ball. When you go plus 37 (on efficiency rating) that’s a good day.”
Walker made her presence felt on both ends of the floor for Tech. She disrupted the LSU-A offense with her on-ball pressure most of the game, recording three of the team’s 17 steals and helping Tech force 20 turnovers. She added a career-high 15 points and four rebounds in 30 minutes while hitting 9-of-13 free throws.
“I thought Kieunna looked a little nervous early,” said Stoehr. “She is a sophomore, but she didn’t play a lot of minutes last year playing behind Kierra Anthony and Taylor Stahly and some of those experienced perimeter players. Some of this will be some game experience for her early on. I thought she gave us great energy. Her ability to get to the free throw line is a big deal for us. She needs to make a few more easy ones at the rim, but she has the ability to get by people. Three steals. She can create some havoc for us when she gets up and guards.”
Walker helped Tech use a 14-0 run to open the third quarter as Tech pushed its halftime lead out to 60-35, holding the Generals scoreless for the first five minutes of the period. LSU-A never got closer than 20 points the rest of the game.
Senior Grayson Bright led Tech offensively, scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. She hit 7-of-9 field goals and 6-of-7 free throws in the win.
Freshman Lotte Sant also had a stellar collegiate debut, scoring 15 points while hitting 3-of-4 three-pointers.
Kelsey Thaxton led LSU-A with 19 points in the loss.
Tech returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Memphis at 6:30 p.m.
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