TUCSON, Ariz. — Texas Tech has the second-youngest women’s basketball team in the Big 12 Conference. The youth was apparent Sunday as the Lady Raiders failed to answer a giant Arizona scoring run in the first half and dropped their first true road test of the season 65-56.
“Grow up,” head coach Candi Whitaker said on how her team can be more consistent. “Be older. Be more experienced. That’s part of growing as a player, understanding stop score stop, stringing things together, understanding how to stop runs, start runs, get something really good.
“If you haven’t scored on a couple possessions, you’ve got to get something really good. It’s got to be a greater awareness of runs on both ends.”
The game was close early as Tech held an 8-7 lead five minutes into the game and extended it to 18-9 before Arizona took advantage of a 5:10 scoring drought for the Lady Raiders.
From the 12:19 mark in the first half, Arizona went on a 21-6 run to take a 30-24 lead into halftime.
“Defensively we were in some zone, and it wasn’t going real well,” Whitaker said. “We gave up some easy looks. I think some middle penetration as well.
“Offensively, we couldn’t score. We were stuck on 20 for what seemed like forever. We just weren’t getting good enough looks on the offensive end and getting more opportunities. We needed to offensive rebound harder.”
Arizona (2-7) outrebounded Tech (4-4) by a 53-38 margin.
Lady Raiders freshman guard Minta Spears scored 11 of her team-high 14 points in the first half and wound up playing the entire 40 minutes.
“I almost feel bad when I have to play her so many minutes,” Whitaker said. “She’s a player that plays with a great deal of awareness. She wants her team to win. She’s fighting to do all those things. She plays because of it.”
The Lady Raiders needed junior guard Amber Battle on the court, but she was on the bench due to a pair of quick fouls picked up less than two minutes into the game.
“It’s always going to hurt when we can’t have Amber on the floor,” Whitaker said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of holding, protecting a little bit, but we had trouble scoring. When Minta didn’t have some open looks, we just have to have her on the floor for both ends.”
Battle scored all of her 12 points in the second half, including six of Tech’s first 15 after the break. She played only 22 minutes, but scored in double digits for the seventh time in eight games this season.
The Lady Raiders made an 11-2 run to cut the Arizona lead to two with 6:51 left in the game.
Arizona answered the challenge with a 12-5 run. The Wildcats hit five of their final six free throws, slamming the door on a Lady Raider comeback.
The Wildcats’ two best shooters came through, junior guard Candice Warthen with 23 points and senior guard Kama Griffitts with 13.
For Tech, sophomore forward Kellyn Schneider finished with a career-high nine points, and junior guard Audrisa Harrison recorded a career-high nine rebounds.
“I thought Kell was more active today,” Whitaker said. “I thought she was a little more aggressive. I thought she made better decisions, quicker decisions, so a lot of good things there.
“Dris was a warrior. I thought when Amber went out, she realized she had to step up and help us in some categories and did a nice job.”
Defensively the Lady Raiders finished with 10 steals, an improvement on the defensive end.
“I thought we came up with some really good rotation,” Whitaker said. “We had to come off and help, and then we rotated backside and got a lot of things that way. We got our hands on some things.”
The Lady Raiders return to Lubbock to host the World Vision Invitational from Friday through Sunday.
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