LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Louisiana Tech held Little Rock scoreless for the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter and defeated the Trojans 43-38 before 821 fans at the Jack Stephens Center Monday night.
Tech trailed 31-26 with 4:21 to play in the third quarter, but then held Little Rock (1-6) to only one point over the next 13-plus minutes and used a 17-1 run to pull away for the win.
“I am really proud,” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “This is a tough place to play against a well-coached team. They have played a really tough schedule. They will be there when it counts come March. I am just proud of this team. We had a gut check moment in third quarter when we took some bad shots and got down by five.
“I would like to say it was always really good defense but it was some poor offensive execution and not finishing easy shots part of the time by both teams. We gave up 13 offensive boards at halftime. We didn’t answer their challenge in the first half, but we did in the second half. We put bodies on people. We had some possessions where we really defended well but then gave up offensive boards to a guard. We didn’t allow that in the second half.”
Keiunna Walker scored 15 points and was a big part of Tech’s collective team effort in defending Little Rock’s top scorer Kyra Collier. Although Collier finished with a game-high 17 points, she was a non-factor in the second half until two meaningless three-pointers in the final 50 seconds of the game.
“Hopefully we took a big step forward defensively tonight,” said Stoehr. “Our team has struggled limiting the other team’s best scorer. We haven’t done a good job until our last game against Loyola. We were letting them get too many easy touches. But I thought we forced Collier to take some tough shots. We forced her into turnovers early. We put a bunch of people on her. They go as she goes. And we limited her impact tonight.”
Tech (4-2) held Little Rock (1-6) to just 24 percent shooting for the game as the Trojans made only 13-of-54 field goal attempts. Entering the contest, Tech was allowing opponents more than 70 points per game.
But Walker and her LA Tech teammates turned up the pressure and proved to take a step forward in Arkansas on a cold Monday night.
“Offensively, the game was brutal at times,” said Stoehr. “Keiunna took some tough shots, but I thought she had a number of good plays where she got into the paint and got to the free throw line. We just need to continue to get her into the paint and get her to free throw line or creating for others.”
The game was tied 14-14 at the end of the first quarter and Tech led 24-23 at the half. Little Rock used a run to start the third quarter to take its biggest lead of the game at 31-26 before the Lady Techsters closed the quarter on an 8-1 run to hold a 34-32 lead.
Tech held Little Rock scoreless for the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter while pushing its lead to 43-32 with less than a minute to play. Raizel Guinto hit a big three-pointer to push the advantage to 39-32 with four minutes to play and MeMe Amand helped Tech limit Little Rock on the glass in the second half.
Tech returns to action Thursday when it hosts McNeese State at 6:30 p.m.