Texas Tech did more than just win on Saturday. Lady Raiders coach Candi Whitaker said her team gave its best performance all season.
Junior guard Amber Battle put on a clinic with a career-high 28 points, and Tech won its second game in a row in the World Vision Classic at United Spirit Arena, beating Florida Atlantic 76-63.
“In the first half, we played extremely well on both ends,” said Whitaker, whose team improved to 6-4. “They made some runs in the second half which we knew they would. We had some moments when we didn’t take care of it. I just thought we played together.
“Amber had a tremendous game. Every time we called her number, she made a play. Dris (Audrisa Harrison) just boarded it and bailed us out so many times.”
Battle was 10 of 15 from the field, including a 3-point goal, and 7 for 7 from the free-throw line.
“I honestly didn’t know that I had that many points,” she said. “Just being aggressive. My teammates got me the ball at the right time and made shots.”
Harrison owned the boards for a third-straight game. The junior guard pulled down down a career-high 18 rebounds and posted 11 points for her first career Division-I double-double.
Harrison is averaging 12.7 rebounds in her last three games.
“I just try to get extra possessions for my team,” Harrison said. “Any way I can help my team be more successful, I’m willing to do. My role is rebounding and that’s what I do.”
Senior forward Shauntal Nobles also recorded her second double-double of the season with 10 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 5:08 left in the game.
Florida Atlantic (7-3) had a seven-game winning streak snapped.
Latavia Dempsey led the Owls with 16 points, followed by Kimberly Smith with 13 and Ashley Stevenson with 11.
Florida Atlantic’s leading scorer for the season, 6-foot forward Chenise Miller, finished with seven. She’d been averaging nearly 13.
“Our post players did a great job of not allowing Miller to get anything easy,” Whitaker said. “She’s a go-to for them. She’s a great player. I just thought we sent a message that we’re going to move our feet and make her make tough shots over us.”
The Lady Raiders got out to a poor start, turning the ball over more times (five) than shooting it (three).
Trailing 16-8 with 14:33 left to play in the first half, Tech fought back to tie it at 22 with 9:09 remaining.
Three minutes later, the Lady Raiders started an 18-6 run.
Four of the Owls’ six points to end the first half came from the free-throw line.
“They run a five-out motion, and it’s tough to guard,” Whitaker said. “They were constantly moving. You don’t know what’s coming. I thought we did a good job of being aware and communicating, which were two of our focal points for this game that we were ready for anything and if we needed to emergency switch we were going to.
Battle and Harrison each had a big first half with Battle scoring 16 points in 14 minutes and Harrison pulling down 10 rebounds.
The Lady Raiders started the second half on an 11-2 run, but the turnover bug bit again in the second half.
Texas Tech struggled with Florida Atlantic’s full-court press and ball pressure, turning the ball over a total of 25 times.
The Owls capitalized off those Tech mistakes for 21 points, 12 of which came in the second half, allowing them to stay in the ball game.
“We played really fast,” Whitaker said. “That was a really fast first half. When you play fast, you’re going to have some turnovers. They pressed, which sped us up.
“The thing I would like for them to take from this game to improve on is having more discipline, that when you play fast you know when you have something and when you don’t. When you don’t you’ve got to pull it out and execute in the half.”
The Lady Raiders will take on Abilene Christian University (8-5) at 2 p.m. Sunday in the final game of the World Vision Challenge. The Wildcats are coached by former Oklahoma State coach Julie Goodenough. Among their top six scorers are former Coronado standouts Suzzy Dimba (11.7 points per game) and Lizzy Dimba (8.3 ppg).
Jacksonville and Florida Atlantic square off at noon.
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WORLD VISION CHALLENGE
at United Spirit Arena
Texas Tech 62, Jacksonville 48
Florida Atlantic 67, Abilene Christian 63
Texas Tech 76, Florida Atlantic 63
Abilene Christian 76, Jacksonville 72
Jacksonville vs. Florida Atlantic, noon
Texas Tech vs. Abilene Christian, 2 p.m.