There were too many things going right for the Texas Tech women’s basketball team in Wednesday’s 75-56 win against Illinois for the fighting Illini to have a chance.
Good defense. Good ball movement. Good transition play.
The Lady Raiders played Wednesday the way they are going to need to play once they hit Big 12 Conference in less than a month, and Illinois is probably the most athletic team Tech has seen this season — something it will have to deal with a lot in the best women’s conference in the country.
Furthermore, Wednesday’s win gives the Lady Raiders plenty of steam heading into a 10-day break between games as the team prepares for Friday’s start of finals.
“Give Texas Tech credit,” Illinois coach Matt Bollant said after the loss. “Coach (Kristy) Curry and her staff have a good basketball team. The seniors stepped up and made plays.”
It wasn’t just the seniors that stepped up, though. Kelsi Baker scored a career-high 16 points and proved she can compete with a physical post in preseason All-Big 10 selection Karisma Penn.
“We were just trying to be aggressive, not let her get catches in front of her,” Baker said after the game. “Have help side, bring the double when we need to. It was physical down there, but I felt like the team did a very good job of bringing the double and bringing the help.”
Every player in the Tech rotation had at least a couple of series where they showed why the Lady Raiders can rely on their bench — something Illinois couldn’t say on Wednesday.
Curry said freshman Kellyn Schneider grew up before her eyes last night, muscling in Penn.
Jackie Patterson grabbed eight rebounds and created separation in her close jumper.
“I thought our bench was really big,” Curry said. “It may not show up in the stat line, but I thought they brought great energy. ... Our depth is going to be important as we go throughout the year.”
Despite not scoring, Amber Battle managed to grab four rebounds in only 11 minutes. A problem early in the season, Tech out-rebounded its opponent for the fifth straight game.
“That’s a stat line you look at when you get 18 offensive rebounds to their 10 and out-rebound a group ... that big and that athletic along the perimeter — they’re really big and physical. I was really pleased with our energy on the glass and thought that for a little while kept us in the game.”
While the Lady Raiders do have plenty of time to pat themselves on the back after a job well done against Illinois, Curry said the team is not going to get complacent.
“Our challenge with them after the game is to never be satisfied,” she said.
Tech plays Northern Colorado at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 in United Spirit Arena.
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