By: Travis Cram - Texas Tech Communications
LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech returns to United Spirit Arena on Sunday to face off against its third opponent this season and first from a BCS Conference when it tips off with Arizona State at 2 p.m.
Tech (2-0) is coming off a 64-56 win over New Mexico on Wednesday and is looking to start a season 3-0 for the 13th time in program history. The Lady Raiders held off the Lobos after they pulled within two points with just two minutes left, hitting six consecutive free throws – part of a 24-for-27 night from the line.
“I was really happy to see how they fought back and how they handled situations down the stretch,” Texas Tech head coach Candi Whitaker said. “We’re a young team and we were put in some tough game situations and I thought we handled them well.”
Arizona State (1-1) is coming off a loss on the road to San Diego on Wednesday after winning its home opener over Hawaii where the Sun Devils put up 84 points.
The Lady Raiders have used its aggressive play style in their first two games to not just try and generate points in the paint but also to try and get to the free-throw line. And when they’ve gotten there, they've rarely missed.
Tech leads the Big 12 Conference with an 85.2 free-throw percentage, hitting 52 of 61 from the line through two games. Redshirt freshman guard Minta Spears leads the team with 15 of 16 free throws made.
“I think that gives us a lot of confidence,” Spears said. “I was really proud of our team. (New Mexico) got up and kind of made a run and we stayed strong through that run and hit our free throws so I think that gives us a little bit of confidence going in against a good ASU team.”
Then there’s junior guard Amber Battle, who has taken full advantage of her expanded role on the team as a starter and leader after being one of the top sixth players off the bench in the conference last year.
The 5-9 guard not only leads the team in scoring (19 ppg) and is seventh in the conference, but is leading all Big 12 players with 12.5 rebounds per game. She is one of three players and the only guard in the conference averaging a double-double per game in points and rebounds.
“Amber is just a tremendous athlete,” Whitaker said. “That’s big time. She goes and she gets boards for this team. We want her to work and continue to do what she’s been doing defensively but add to the offensive side because I think she can go up and get some putbacks and improve her point column as well.
“But I think it shows what a tremendous athlete she is and how hard she pursues the boards.”
The Lady Raiders will drop their 2013 NCAA Tournament banner before the game, honoring their 20th appearance in the postseason tournament. Former Lady Raiders Monique Smalls, Casey Morris and Mary Bokenkamp will be in attendance for the ceremony.