Nov. 25, 2016
RUSTON ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" Louisiana Tech has suffered a pair of close losses to P5 programs through the first two weeks of the season, falling by four points to LSU and in overtime to Clemson.
And head coach Brooke Stoehr knows why.
The young Lady Techster squad has been their own worst enemy at times, especially down the stretch when those two games were on the line.
"We have to defend better and we have to rebound better," said Stoehr. "It's simple. If we had done a better job of those two things in those two games, we could have been on the other end. We just have to keep working in practice and trusting the process of getting better each day."
In the 77-73 loss to LSU, the Tigers shot 60 percent from the field in the second half and when they did miss a shot, they would pull down the offensive rebound, getting second and third opportunities.
In the 78-67 overtime loss to Clemson Saturday, Tech saw those Tigers shots 6-for-6 in the extra 5-minute period as the Lady Techsters didn't record a single defensive stop in overtime. Tech also saw Clemson pull down 20 offensive rebounds in the game.
"We might not do anything else but defend and rebound for the next two weeks of practice," Stoehr said following the Clemson loss.
No one could blame her if that is the practice plan.
The good news for the Lady Techsters is despite the fact they have struggled in those two important areas, they have been on the cusp of winning those two games. Tech enters Saturday's match-up against the NAIA Generals (1-1) with a team that has shown flashes of being pretty good in other areas.
The best news is the season is very young.
LA Tech will play six games over the next two weeks, giving Stoehr and Co. an opportunity to practice, make corrections and then put it into game use.
Sophomores Jasmine LeBlanc (16.0 ppg, 9.7 rpg), Kierra Anthony (14.0 ppg, 7-13 three-pointers) and Reauna Cleaver (11.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg) lead the Lady Techsters offensively. Tech is shooting 45 percent from the field as a team and 73 percent from the free throw line, both numbers that are ranked at or near the top of the Conference USA statistical categories.
And the offense which is averaging right at 70 points per game should only get better as the season progresses.
Tech has also seen six different players score in double figures at least one time through six games and that's with the Lady Techsters top returning scorer ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" junior guard Ashley Santos ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" not being one of those six.
LSU-Alexandria, which has already lost "exhibition" games to ULM 73-61 and Northwestern State 97-76, enters the contest boasting four players averaging double figures led by Bianca Harvey (15.5 ppg, 5-11 three-pointers), Katie Lemieux (14.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg), Luv Blackburn (10.5 ppg) and Lillie Snowden (10.0 ppg).
The Generals are surrendering 84 points per game through their first two games against NAIA opponents ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" any games against a DI do not officially count on NAIA teams records (although it does count on the DI team's record). LSU-A is also forcing a ton of turnovers, including forcing 33 in the loss to UL-Monroe.
Saturday's game can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network on ESPN 97.7 FM with the pregame show starting at 12:30 p.m. Fans can also listen to it for free at espn97.com or through the Louisiana Tech X mobile app or the Red Peach Media app. A live video/audio stream is available by purchasing a subscription to CUSATV.com.