By Malcolm Butler, Louisiana Tech Associate Athletic Director/Communications
RUSTON – Louisiana Tech used a 15-3 game-ending run to pull away from Grambling State Monday night at the Thomas Assembly Center as the Lady Techsters defeated the Tigers 79-69 before 1,200 fans in a battle of the two Lincoln Parish programs.
Trailing 66-64 with just under five minutes to play, Tech (2-0) turned to a zone defense and held Grambling State (0-2) in check the rest of the way as the Lady Techsters improved to 7-0 all-time in the series.
“I thought we had a number of players step up in some critical moments and make some huge plays,” said LA Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “I wanted to go to the zone in the third quarter, but we were in foul trouble and the lineup we had available to play just didn’t feel good about it due to the lack of experience and their understanding of it.
“I thought when we went to it in the fourth quarter late it was very effective. They only scored 10 in the quarter and only three in the final five minutes after we went to the zone.”
After Justice Coleman gave Grambling State the 66-64 lead, LA Tech answer. Anna Larr Roberson tied the game on a 15-footer from the elbow and then on the ensuing possession, freshman Robyn Lee pulled up and drained a 12-footer to give the Lady Techster the lead at 68-66.
Following two straight empty possessions by Grambling State, Amber Dixon hit a pair of free throws with 2:25 to play to push the lead to 70-66. On the following Tigers possession, Keiunna Walker stole the basketball and raced the length of the court to increase the lead to 72-66.
Grambling State followed with another empty offensive possession and then senior Raizel Guinto put the nail in the coffin with a three-pointer – her third of the night – with 52 seconds to play.
Tech opened the game strong, scoring the first nine points to force a Grambling State timeout less than three minutes into the game. The Tigers responded, hitting seven straight field goals, including a trio of three-pointers, and leading 22-19 at the end of the first quarter. The Lady Techsters committed nine turnovers in the first quarter and 21 in the first three quarters.
The two teams combined for 51 fouls and 48 turnovers.
“It was a night where they were calling a lot of fouls on both of teams,” said Stoehr. “We shot 35 free throws and they shot 21. Between that and the 22 turnovers we had and the 26 they had, there was just not a whole lot of flow to the game. It was hard for us to get going.
“We’ve got to be much better and more disciplined defensively and adjust if they’re calling those fouls. Then we’ve got to take more care of the basketball, but at the end of the night we scored 79 and didn’t play all that well but made shots when we needed them and made plays when we needed them.”
Walker led Tech with 17 points, while Guinto added 15 points and Dixon chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds. Lee added nine points and freshman Irene Murua led the way on the glass with eight boards.
Alexus Holt led Grambling State with 17 points while Candice Parrarmore added 13 points.
“Give them credit, they’re going to pressure and make you speed up, but we had some travels and just not playing in a stance and being very poised,” said Stoehr. “That was frustrating, but I thought when we needed to we were able to settle in and make it happen.”
Tech shot 44 percent (25-57) from the field and hit 24-of-35 free throws while Grambling State shot 43 percent (23-54) from the field and hit 16-of-21 free throws.
The Lady Techsters travel to face No. 25 Texas Wednesday night in Austin.