Texas Tech can flat out shoot.
And they showed it time and time again as they defeated Texas-Arlington 79-60 on Thursday at United Supermarkets Arena.
Reece’ Caldwell was on fire early, hitting 3 of her first 4 shots from beyond the arc in first five minutes of the game and lifted the Lady Raiders to an early 13-5 lead. Texas Tech (8-3) didn’t stop there, though. Arella Guirantes and Larryn Brooks both hits 3s and Caldwell drained another to cap off an 18-0 run to end the first quarter.
“It was a great win for us and I thought our kids had a great week in practice and you could tell how ready they were to go in the first quarter,” Texas Tech coach Candi Whitaker said.
While Tech got the win, the game might have delivered the biggest loss of the season for the Lady Raiders. With six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Guirantes went down and had to be helped off the court — she was unable to put weight on her left ankle, which was wrapped and ice after she went to the bench. Coming into the game Guirantes, a highly sought after recruit out of IMG Academy, was Tech’s second-leading scorer and one of the top freshmen in the Big 12.
“I sure hope (she is OK),” Whitaker said. “I don’t know at this moment. They are going to take her and get her checked out. It was an ankle, so hopefully she will be fine and be back.”
Texas Tech was up 51-25 when she went down, but lost its momentum.
The Lady Mavs (7-3) were able to stay in the game by picking up Tech in a full-court press for the majority of the game and intense man defense that forced 20 turnovers.
“We are a pressing team because we are smaller in our one through four, but it was not very effective in the first quarter and they made us pay,” said UTA coach Krista Gerlich, who helped direct the Lady Raiders to the 1993 national championship while playing for hall of fame coach Marsha Sharp. “We are a team that has to force some turnovers and score in transition.
UTA was also able to dominate Texas Tech on the offensive glass, pulling down 26 off the offensive boards to Tech’s 10.
“You have to have guards that are going to go get (the ball) and rebound it well when you are in a zone and when someone is shooting in the 20s you are going to give some up,” Whitaker said. “That doesn’t mean you don’t wanna get more and (26) is too many and that is something all year that we have had to work on.”
Still, when Tech got its shot, it made it. The Lady Raiders finished 24 of 44 from the floor (54.5 percent) and was even deadlier from 3, going 9 of 16. And when UTA cut the lead to 13 with 9:01 in the fourth — off a 3 from Shelby Richards — Brooks answered with a 3 and Tech began once again to stretch its lead back out.
“I think we came out with intensity, intention and execution,” Caldwell said. “I think our temp was good, but I think we got comfortable after the first quarter and got a little lackadaisical and they benefited, but I think we countered pretty well.”
Brooks came on after Guirantes went down and finished with 12 points. Caldwell led the Lady Raiders with 20 points and five assists and Jada Terry finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Ivonne CookTaylor was the fourth Lady Raider in double figures with 11.
Cierra Johnson led UTA with 19 points and Rebecca Van Dijk was physical inside, scoring 15 and pulling down 11 rebounds.
“That (kind of post play) is what I am going to see in the Big 12,” Terry said. “I am not bothered by it. She was physical, but that is what I am going to see every game for the rest of the season.”
Player of the Game
Reece’ Caldwell, Texas Tech: Caldwell started with the hot hand, hitting 4 of her first 5 3-pointers as Texas Tech opened the game with a 28-5 first quarter. She finished with 20 points and five assists.
Why Texas Tech won
The Lady Raiders won because of their ability to dribble through the press and find open looks, which they hit repeatedly, especially from beyond the arc, where they hit 6 of their first nine shots. Texas Tech’s repeated screens caused issues for the Lady Mavs.
What’s next for Tech?
After a tough non-conference schedule, the Lady Raiders are set to begin Big 12 play on the road at Texas on Dec. 29 at 7 p.m.