Losing to Texas to open Big 12 play provided Texas Tech with exactly what it needed — motivation to get and play better.
“After the Texas game we were going over the film and (associate head) coach Matt (Corkery) was saying basketball is a game of mental toughness and runs and we are not going to be someone by 20 points and they are going to stay down,” Lady Raider sophomore guard Recee’ Caldwell said.
The message worked.
Behind a solid defensive performance and 14 points and nine rebounds from freshman post Brittany Brewer, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders defeated Oklahoma State 70-65 on Sunday at United Supermarkets Arena.
“It was not because we lost, but because of how we played,” Texas Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. “We were blindsided a little bit. … Coaches are the ones that have a harder time moving on, but it just wasn’t us. … it was partly Texas and we have to be better in environments likes that and it was a learning thing.”
Last season, Oklahoma State had wins of 69-46 in Lubbock and 70-57 in Stillwater.
But, this isn’t the same Lady Raider team. With Oklahoma State (11-2, 1-1 Big 12) up 53-49 with 8:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, Texas Tech (9-4, 1-1) came alive.
Junior guard Larryn Brooks drained a 3 to pull the Lady Raiders within one, Jada Terry hit a pair of shots down low and then Dayo Olabode popped a 3 from the wing for give Tech a 61-55 lead with less than five minutes remaining. Caldwell capped off the 10-2 run with a jumper and then dropped another 3 with 2:13 remaining to push the Lady Raiders lead to 66-58.
“I think we made them work all game and we didn’t have a lot of wasted possessions,” Caldwell said. “After Texas we saw we wasted a lot possessions and how how good our offensive execution was. So, when we make them work the whole game, in the fourth quarter we were getting easier buckets and Jada was jump hooking over (Kaylee) Jensen. Everything was just clicking.”
Oklahoma State got off to a quick start, leading 13-7 after hitting 6 of its first 11 shots from the floor. However, Tech ramped up the defense and held the Cowgirls to 3 of 17 from the floor in a stretch that saw them take a 24-21 lead with 4:59 remaining in the second quarter. After a timeout, Oklahoma State scored six straight as the lead continued to bounce back and forth.
Ivonne CookTaylor hit a quick turnaround jumper to give the Lady Raiders a 28-27 lead, but with three seconds remaining in the half, Jensen hit a turnaround shot deep in the paint and put the Cowgirls up 31-30 at the half.
In the second half, though, Tech simply outshoot the Cowgirls. The Lady Raiders finished the game shooting 56.8 percent from the floor and 55.6 from 3-point range. But in the fourth quarter, they were even better, hitting a ridiculous 90 percent from the floor.
“Big 12 games are like that. There are runs and you have to counter and stay positive. We had to do that multiple times and we had multiple people step up multiple times in big moments,” Whitaker said. “I just thought we performed at a really high level.”
Caldwell led the Lady Raiders with 20 points and four assists.
“Recee’ Caldwell is an excellent player. The 20 points hurt us, but what hurt us more is what she did off the pass,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “I think most of Brewer’s baskets were a result of us not rotating and us not getting to where we needed to be. You have to hedge and double some ball screens with Recee’ up there. But, they were slow and by allowing Brewer to get going that was the difference in the game.”
Thanks to the inside presence of Brewer and Terry, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds, Oklahoma State struggled to get effective shots. The Cowgirls only shot 40.6 percent from the floor and were forced to throw up deep shots from 3-point range — where they went 4 for 27.
“Jensen is a tremendous post player and if she has space to operate and is one-on-0ne we knew we needed to provide some help there,” Whitaker said. “It was really important that we won today, but that we played well. We want to feel good about how we are playing and how we are executing. … Obviously you want to win, but if we can put our best foot forward and play our best every time — that is what we are looking for.”
Player of the game
Brittany Brewer, Texas Tech: The freshman has arrived. After struggling to find her offensive game for much of the season, Brewer was solid against Oklahoma State, delivering 14 points and
Why Texas Tech won
Defense. Down low, the combination of Brittany Brewer and Jada Terry were everything they weren’t in the Big 12 opening loss to Texas. While, the Lady Raiders still struggled on the offensive glass, Terry and Brewer forced Jensen and Mandy Coleman to the perimeter, forcing them to take deep twos.
Up Next for Tech
The Lady Raiders have another big home game Wednesday as they try to push to the front of the pack early in Big 12 play. Tech hosts Iowa State at 6 p.m. at United Supermarkets Arena.