LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech senior Haley Schneider had the perfect senior script written in her head for Saturday and nearly put together the perfect performance to match it.
Schneider scored a career-high 14 points and seven blocks in her final home game at Tech but the Lady Raiders couldn’t close the gap in the final seconds of a 67-64 loss to Texas.
Shauntal Nobles and Schneider were honored after the game as Tech’s lone seniors for the 2013-14 season and said they nearly had the ending they wanted.
“This game was going to be bittersweet regardless, just because it’s my last home game,” Schneider said. “Really wish we could have gotten a win but it’s nice that me and Shauny had a good performance. I’m really proud of Shauny and happy to be going out with someone like her.”
Amber Battle and Ivonne CookTaylor each added 14 points for the Lady Raiders.
Tech (6-22, 0-17 Big 12) traded leads 14 times with Texas (19-10, 10-7) and took as much as a four-point lead midway through the first half and even had a chance to take the lead before halftime when Battle was fouled on a 3-point shot with seven seconds to go and trailing by two.
Battle would make only 1 of 3 to give Texas a 28-27 lead at the break.
The Longhorns relied heavily on the inside play of Nneka Enemkpali and Imani McGee-Stafford, who combined for 37 points and 17 rebounds. The two helped Texas on a 9-2 run in the second half to take a 55-45 lead with nine minutes remaining.
Tech then went on a 10-2 run of its own over the next four and half minutes to cut the Horns’ lead to with 3:47 to play.
“(I told them) That we can do this,” Tech head coach Candi Whitaker said, referring to the timeout at that time in the game. “We can finish this. Every possession is important, every defensive stand is important and that every blockout is important. We needed to tighten up that much more and be as mistake-free as possible.
“It felt good. There’s been a couple of games that we’ve been close and the look in their eye hasn’t been what it should. And today I believed that they could go get it done.”
A three-point play by Battle pulled Tech within three points at 65-62 as the Lady Raiders held off Texas on its next two possessions and had a chance to get within one with 18 seconds to go. But the free throws would once again haunt Tech as Nobles missed a pair at the line and Enemkpali hit hers on the other end to seal the game for Texas.
“Like (Haley) said – it’s really bittersweet,” Nobles said. “I didn’t think I was going to feel it this hard, but I am. I’ve had five years here – four playing – and I loved it. I’m leaving a lot behind and that’s the toughest thing.”
Nobles and Schneider will play at least two more games together. Tech plays its final regular season game at 7 p.m. Monday at Oklahoma (17-12, 8-8) before heading to the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Thursday. The Lady Raiders will be the No. 10 seed in the tournament and will face the No. 7 seed at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.