When Kelsi Baker runs the floor, her teammates notice.
Last weekend, during three games in the Basketball Travelers Invitational, Baker ran up and down the court and helped pace a much-improved inside-scoring attack for Texas Tech women’s basketball.
“My teammates are rewarding me,” said Baker, who earned a spot on the all-tournament team after averaging 12 points per game against Southern Utah, Nicholls State and New Orleans. “I’m running the floor, and they reward me and find me in the right spot. It’s not anything I’m doing differently, it’s my teammates finding me in the right spot.”
Baker hadn’t scored more than nine points in Tech’s first three games, but she found an inside touch in limited playing time last weekend. She played 21 minutes in each of her first two games and only 17 in the final game as the Lady Raiders rotated in their bench.
However, along with converted guard Christine Hyde, Tech slashed to the basket continuously against the Thunderbirds, Colonels and Lady Privateers to three convincing wins.
“Kelsi’s had much more of a presence, I thought, this past weekend,” Tech coach Kristy Curry said. “She really came into her own a little bit and did a great job of really being aggressive and rally sprinting. Great energy, great effort. I’m an energy effort person.”
Curry said she was pleased with the energy and effort from the post, which has had to endure the loss of Shauntal Nobles to illness.
Along with Baker, Hyde has arguably been Tech’s most consistent player of the season on both ends of the court, scoring at least 10 points four times and grabbing six rebounds or more five times.
The senior started the season on the bench, but earned herself a starting role in the third game.
“(Hyde’s) very active with and without the basketball,” Curry said. “Very aggressive attacking mentality on both ends of the floor and it makes us a better team.”
Tech guard Casey Morris led Tech in scoring last weekend, largely thanks to hot shooting from the perimeter.
With Morris heating up (11-of-25 from beyond the 3-point line), more options opened inside for Hyde, Baker and the rest of the post players. Freshman Kellyn Schneider logged a career-high eight points against New Orleans,
“We all play together,” Morris said, “and when we do that, then we all have success. And when they’re doing good on the inside, then things open up for us on the outside.”
Baker and Hyde drove to the basket consistently against their outmatched opponents, getting easy looks and also grabbing offensive rebounds on missed shots.
While the competition isn’t going to be nearly the same once Big 12 Conference play rolls around, the pair can approach mid-season form earlier by opening up the offense down low.
Hyde and Baker hope to continue their run of strong play at 1 p.m. Saturday, when Tech (5-1) hosts Lamar.
Lamar (5-1) lost its first game of the season to Baylor by 46 points, but has since had an average margin of victory of 32.4 points. The Cardinals beat Ole Miss by 15.
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