Techsters handle outmanned Memphis, 65-40

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RUSTON – Although Louisiana Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr feels she has a team that will be very good offensively this season, it has been the Lady Techster defense that has been winning games early in the year.

Thursday night at the Thomas Assembly Center was no different as Tech (3-0) held the undermanned Tigers (1-2) to only 28 percent shooting in a 65-40 victory before 1,851 fans. With the victory, LA Tech recorded its first 3-0 start since the 2009-10 season.

“I was very proud of our energy and effort defensively,” said Stoehr. “I thought we communicated as a group. And I thought we defended with five. We did a great job with our bigs defending (Cheyenne) Creighton. She can really score. They do a great job of getting her the ball in places where she can score, and that’s why she was averaging 24 points a game. I think our rotation of bigs that went in and guarded her did a really good job.”

Creighton was one of only seven Memphis players dressed out for the game as the Tigers have been plagued with injuries early in the season. Tech held the Tigers senior forward to a season low 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting and seven rebounds with only one coming in the second half.

“They have players that had to play a lot of minutes,” said Stoehr. “We knew we needed to increase the temp and really play at a fast pace. We want to play that way anyway. We felt there were stretches that we could really go at them. I thought we got some points in those runs, and they were really fatigued. You never want to be in that situation. Credit to them. I thought their kids continued to play hard and continued to fight, but I’m very proud of our energy and effort.”

Offensively, Tech got off to a slow start. Tech trailed 6-0 until Kierra Anthony finally put the Lady Techsters on the scoreboard with a layup at the 5:42 mark of the opening quarter. A Nikki McDonald layup followed by a steal and jumper from Anna McLeod on the inbounds pass tied the score at 8-8 with 3:06 to play.

Memphis regained a 10-8 lead but then Tech scored the final six points of the quarter in route to a 14-10 lead. The Techsters opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run to push the advantage to 20-10 after layup by Reauna Cleaver. However, the next three minutes were all Tigers as a pair of three-pointers from freshman Jada Stinson bookended two more field goals for a 10-0 Memphis run to tie the game at 20-20.

“They hit some threes in the first half off of transition, and we had to clean up some stuff there,” said Stoehr. “I think they had four offensive boards at the first media timeout and then they had four the rest of the game. I thought we locked in better defensively and then got into them and got into people and then were able to get defensive boards and push in transition.”

With the game tied at 25-25, Tech used a 9-0 run highlighted by seven straight points by senior Alexus Malone to take a 34-25 lead into the locker room.

After being outrebounded 18-16 in the first half, Tech dominated the glass in the third and fourth quarters. In the final 20 minutes of play, the Lady Techsters outboarded Memphis 27-11 and held the Tigers to only 6-of-24 from the field.

Tech outscored the Tigers 17-8 in the third quarter and 14-7 in the fourth quarter to cruise to the 25-point victory. Malone led Tech with 17 points and nine rebounds while Anthony and Taylor Stahly each added 10 points. McDonald and Cleaver each scored eight points while Zhanae Whitney added seven points.

Freshman Amber Dixon led Tech with seven assists (and no turnovers), giving her 20 assists and only two turnovers on the season.

Jasmine James joined Creighton in double figures for Memphis with 10 points.

For the game, Tech shot 46 percent (26-57) from the field while holding Memphis to just 28 percent (14-51). Tech outrebounded the Tigers 43-29 and outscored Memphis 36-12 on points in the paint and 18-4 on points off turnovers.

Tech returns to action Sunday when it travels to face Auburn at 6 p.m.

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