The Texas Tech women’s basketball team faces a tough week-long stretch, hosting No. 18 West Virginia and No. 20 Iowa State before traveling to Waco to take on No. 12 Baylor.
Today the Lady Raiders (6-11, 0-6 in the Big 12) face a Mountaineer squad that is undefeated on the road so far this season at 6-0. The two teams square off at 6:30 p.m. at the United Spirit Arena.
“We’re always looking to win, execute, play hard and play with energy,” Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. “West Virginia is no different. We’re going to approach West Virginia like we always do and really make it about us more than anything.”
This week in practice, Tech junior guard Amber Battle said the team went back to the fundamentals.
“We’ve been taking a step back in scout and really focusing on us and our defense and offense and just making ourselves better,” she said. “I think that’s really helped us and we’ve become stronger.”
Nailing down the basics on the court will help a young Lady Raider team take on the experienced Mountaineers.
West Virginia (16-2, 5-1) returns four starters from last year: senior guards Christal Caldwell and Taylor Palmer along with junior guard Linda Stepney as well as junior forward Averee Fields.
The Mountaineers lost only one senior starter from last year’s team and ably filled that gap with senior center Asya Bussie, who had to sit out last season due to injury and received a medical hardship waiver.
Two years ago, Bussie earned first-team All-Big East honors, averaging a team-best 12.1 points and 6.6 rebounds on a team that finished 24-10.
This year, she is West Virginia’s second-leading scorer with 13.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Bria Holmes averages a team-leading 13.9, and starts in place of Palmer (11.1).
Caldwell went 5-for-5 from 3-point range Saturday and finished with 23 points in a win over Oklahoma. She is averaging 12.3 points per game.
As a whole, the Mountaineers are third in the Big 12 in scoring offense with 77.8 points.
That kind of balanced scoring is a luxury Texas Tech hasn’t had this season, as junior guard Amber Battle is the only Lady Raider in double digits at 18.4 points per game.
“She’s been tremendous for us and is such a consistent and constant performer that comes out and knows what she needs to do to provide for her team and continues to work to do that,” Whitaker said. “I’m just really proud of what she’s been able to do this season.”
The Lady Raiders have seen what the men’s basketball program has done, upsetting No. 12 Baylor and going on the road to beat TCU last Saturday.
“We want to shock some people, too,” Battle said. “People don’t believe in us, so we have to believe in ourselves.”
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