Techsters put Memphis away late

LA Tech Bulldogs

RUSTON, La. – In a game that was back and forth all night long, Louisiana Tech saved some of its best for last.

Amber Hawkison was steady all night, Keiunna Walker came off the bench to spearhead a fourth quarter rally and Grayson Bright hit a huge three-pointer with less than a minute to play to lift Louisiana Tech to an 83-74 win over Memphis Wednesday night at the Thomas Assembly Center.

With Tech (2-0) leading 75-71 and the shot clock running down with just under a minute to play, freshman Anna Larr Roberson saved a potential turnover and fed Bright who drained her second three-pointer of the night with 37 seconds to play to send the Lady Techsters into quarter break with a victory.

“Grayson has put in some time (with her outside shooting),” said Tech head coach Brooke Stoehr. “The one thing I will give Grayson some credit for is she has recognized that about herself. She has to be more consistent. We are playing her at the four right now with Bre Harris out.

“She made a huge shot off an incredible play that most people won’t recognize. That ball that we play off the pick and role is going out of bounds. But Anna Larr just gave a little bit extra and made a huge play. We talk about those being winning moments, and that was a winning moment. She just gave a little extra, saved the ball and made a bullet pass to Grayson who nailed the three that sent it back to seven. It was a huge play for us.”

Bright led Tech with 16 points and six rebounds in the win, the third straight over Memphis and the 11th in the 15-game series against the Tigers (1-2).

However, if not for Walker’s fourth quarter scoring spurt, the game might not have been where it was for Bright and the Techsters. After starting the season opener against LSU-Alexandria, Walker came off the bench against Memphis. After a quiet first three quarters, she erupted in the fourth scoring 11 of her 13 points including nine straight over a three-minute period that saw Tech take a 64-63 lead and push it out to 73-67.

“These kids just have to play,” said Stoehr. “I am not very patient but we have to be patient with this group. I can’t get frustrated with them. We have to continue to teach and coach and encourage. They found a way to win tonight. I thought Amber Hawkison gets her first start and was solid for us. Grayson made the huge shot for us. And Walker came in the second half and made some critical plays in that fourth quarter.”

Making her first start on the Division I level, Hawkison scored 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and added four steals in 23 minutes of action. Raizel Guinto and Amber Dixon each added 11 points as Tech saw five players score in double figures.

Tech won despite committing 19 turnovers and getting outrebounded 37-28.

“I walk out of here saying I will take an ugly win any day,” said Stoehr. “We have a whole lot of room to improve. Defensively, we are nowhere close to where this team is capable of being. I thought we gave them too many easy looks tonight to give up 74. When we needed to make a play and we needed to make a stop, I thought we dug in and got stops and got rebounds. And then we came down and made some big plays on the offensive end. Coming away with a win when we didn’t play well, I am proud of our players for figuring it out.”

Jamirah Shutes led Memphis with 21 points.

Tech returns to action Nov. 20 when it hosts Wichita State at 6:30 p.m.

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