Texas Tech made plenty of noise early in the 2011-12 season.
That’s what made it all the more confounding when the year ended with a whimper in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday.
The Lady Raiders, who were 14-0 and ranked 10th in the nation midway through the season, were ousted on their home floor by a San Diego team they’d beaten three months earlier.
Texas Tech point guard Monique Smalls had an MRI on her injured left knee Friday, revealing bruising but no ligament damage.
Smalls will not need surgery, Tech announced, and she’s expected to recover in a matter of weeks.
The junior point guard went down with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining in the first half after being fouled in the lane. She was carried off the court by team trainers.
Smalls has started all 101 games during her career at Texas Tech.
Barncastle closes career strong
Jordan Barncastle closed her Texas Tech career in strong fashion Thursday, scoring a team-high 14 points in the Lady Raiders’ 60-51 loss to San Diego in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
Barncastle, who scored a season-high 21 points in Tech’s win against Tulane on Sunday, made a career-high four 3-pointers against San Diego and was the only Tech player who shot better than 42 percent from the field.
The disappointment Texas Tech felt while losing to San Diego during the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on Thursday paled in comparison to its concern over the loss of point guard Monique Smalls.
Smalls suffered a knee injury late in the first half after a drive to the basket and had to be carried off the court. Her cries of pain could be heard in the arena, which fell silent after she went down.
Smalls did not return in the second half.
The shooting woes that plagued Texas Tech in 2012 made their final appearance Thursday.
The Lady Raiders clanked basket after basket in a nightmare first half, missing 25 of their first 28 shots in a 60-51 loss to San Diego in the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
“We’ve got to work a little bit on our mental toughness,” Tech coach Kristy Curry said, “as far as when we miss a shot, don’t focus on missing, but focus on making the next one.”
Texas Tech breathed a sigh of relief on Dec. 30 after Felicia Wijenberg missed an open layup at the buzzer.
The San Diego forward could have provided her team with a signature victory and handed the Lady Raiders their first loss of the season.
Instead, Tech escaped San Diego with a 58-57 win to conclude a perfect non-conference season.
“We got lucky,” Tech sophomore forward Kelsi Baker said Tuesday. “We don’t want to have to get lucky again. We want to go out and dominate the whole game.”
Mallard moves up
Senior forward Kierra Mallard grabbed eight rebounds the last two games to move into third place on Texas Tech’s all-time list with 932 rebounds in her four-year career.
Mallard passed Michi Atkins, who had 927 rebounds from 1992-96. She remains behind Carolyn Thompson (1,247) and Alicia Thompson (953).
Fits from a freshman
Tulane freshman forward Adesuwa Ebomwonyi scored a team-high 19 points to lead Tulane on Sunday.
She scored 16 of Tulane’s 28 points in the paint on 8 of 10 shooting.
Kelsi Baker started 17 games in a row for Texas Tech and put together some standout performances early in the season.
By the time Big 12 Conference play rolled around, though, Baker’s performances lagged and she’s come off the bench since the end of January.
The sophomore forward had her first double-digit game in two months Sunday, scoring 12 points in Texas Tech’s 69-55 second-round victory against Tulane in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
She picked up three fouls in the first half but didn’t let them interfere with her aggressive style of play.