LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech head coach Candi Whitaker said she wants to see something different from her team on Saturday after the Lady Raiders’ loss on Wednesday at No. 7 Baylor.
She hopes they can use a little “anger” and emotions to fuel their fight when the Lady Raiders take on Kansas at 4 p.m., Saturday at United Spirit Arena in the second meeting between the two programs this season.
“I think we are a young team in that once we see ourselves against someone, we tend to learn from it more,” Whitaker said. “(A game like at Baylor) leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We definitely had a chance to compete at a higher level and that’s what we’re looking for against Kansas.”
Tech (6-14, 0-9 Big 12) has proven so far that it can compete better against teams the second time around – especially when the second chance is at home. The Lady Raiders lost by 24 at Iowa State on Jan. 8 and then took the Cyclones to overtime last Saturday.
Redshirt freshmen Minta Spears and Ivonne CookTaylor scored 16 points apiece and emerged as possible secondary scorers to team leader Amber Battle, who is scoring 18.3 points per game – the most by a Lady Raider in the last eight years.
But it was the true freshman and Spanish import, Marina Lizarazu, who came out with a fiery attitude and impressed Whitaker on Wednesday in Waco. Lizarazu played 21 minutes off the bench and scored nine points with four assists. She got the much-needed first field goal of the game and then helped spark a 10-2 run for Tech.
“I really liked the way Marina played,” Whitaker said. “She came in and gave us a spark. She doesn't know Baylor, and you could tell. She just came in and made plays, got to the rim, and found shooters.”
Kansas (10-11, 3-6) comes in after trading wins and losses in consecutive games that included a 76-60 conference win over Baylor on Jan. 19 – the first win by a Big 12 team over Baylor since Tech did it in 2011.
Tech’s toughest task will be stopping KU’s standout forward Chelsea Gardner (16.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg). Gardner scored 28 points and 13 rebounds against Baylor and then followed it with two more double-doubles against Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
While Tech will look to execute its game plan against Gardner and the rest of the Jayhawks, Whitaker said the team is keeping its focus simple this week.
“I think we just always focus on the battle at hand with every day, every drill,” Whitaker said. “We don’t focus on our end results, we don’t focus on our record – we really are just focusing on the journey and getting better every day. I think when you shorten the season into every day, it’s an opportunity to change your focus and that’s how we’ve gone about it.”