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Thomas and Gray Shine, but Lady Raiders Drop Wild Big 12 Opener to Oklahoma

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LUBBOCK, Texas – Despite a high of 25 points and nine rebounds from Taylah thomas and 21 All-American points Viviane Gray, the Texas Tech Lady Raiders lost 97-91 to the Oklahoma Sooners on Sunday afternoon at United Supermarkets Arena.

Thomas and Gray both scored 12 points in Texas Tech’s 29-point fourth quarter (7-5, 0-1 Big 12). The Lady Raiders returned to the game for the first time since December 21 after last week’s non-conference game against the UIW was called off due to health and safety protocols.

Thomas was an efficient 10 of 12 on the field and 5 of 8 on the line, while Gray was a solid 9 of 18 in his first game since December 12.

It was a racing game on Sunday, as Tech (7-5, 0-1 Big 12) overcame a 19-2 run in the third quarter of Oklahoma to narrow a 25-point margin (68-43) at just 72-62 at the end of three.

With a roaring nearly 5,000 crowd and all the momentum, the Lady Raiders looked like they were on the verge of wiping out the deficit altogether, but the Sooners (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) opened the final period on a 9-2 pivotal race to increase the advantage by 10 points until returning to 17 points.

After leading 92-72 with just over three minutes to go, Tech scored 19 points in the 2:57 final, but couldn’t come close to the final seven-point margin.

Although he was limited to just 19 minutes due to a fault issue, the goalkeeper Bre’Amber Scott added 10 points and provided three assists in his first technical start, while Ella Tofaeono added nine points and five rebounds off the bench in their first Big 12 game. The Texas A&M transfer was a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and is now pulling an impressive 72% (42 of 59) from the field this season.

Coming into the game averaging nearly 90 points per game (89.1), Oklahoma were as good as advertised on the offensive end, as four different Sooners hit double the numbers, led by Madi Williams , the 2021 Unanimous First Team All-Big 12 selection. Williams scored 24 points and touched 4 of 5 from distance. Heading into the game on Sunday, Williams was just 10 of 35 (28.6%) on a 3-point range.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN:
Behind four quick runs from Gray and a layup from Thomas, the Lady Raiders took a 9-8 lead with 6:37 left in the first period.

Led by Robertson and Williams, the Sooners responded for the remainder of the period, using a one-on-one from Liz Scott to cap a 21-8 run. The blast gave Oklahoma a 29-17 lead at the end of one.

Needing an answer, Tech used a layup from Tofaeono to trigger a 12-4 run in the first three minutes of the second. The run reduced Oklahoma’s lead from 29-17 to just 33-29 with 7:12 to go.

As they did all afternoon, OU responded to Tech’s run, scoring 13 of the next 20 to take a 46-36 lead with 1:41 remaining in the period.

Another layup from Tofaeono and an and-one from Thomas cut Oklahoma’s lead in half at the break, as Tech led just 46-41 after 20 minutes.

In the second period, the Lady Raiders dominated OU 24-17 and limited the Sooners to just five goals scored with 29% shots.

After the break, Oklahoma threw up a barrage of goals again, using four triples to restart a 19-2 run that gave the visitors a 68-43 lead with 5:36 left in the third.

The Lady Raiders would respond, as Tech kept the powerful OU offense to just four points during the final 5:36 of the third.

The increased defensive success combined with consecutive clutch triples of Lexy hightower and Rhyle mckinney allowed Tech to cut the deficit by 25 points to just 72-62 after three. Hightower finished eight points on the final afternoon.

In the fourth, Oklahoma used 20-10 to increase their lead to 92-72 with just over three minutes to go.

After scoring just 10 points in the first seven minutes, the Lady Raiders managed to lose 19 of the last 24, before ultimately falling 97-91.

COACH SPEAKS (HC Krista gerlich):
β€œI hope it was an exciting game for our fans to watch. Every time teams score that many points it’s usually exciting to watch. As a coach it wasn’t that exciting to play against because we needed to be able to stop better than we did today. OU are a very good offensive team, and we knew that from the start of the game. We have to give them credit for how they shot the ball and were able to dictate the style of play. We fought hard, and there were definitely times we could have given up, but we didn’t. We just had too many periods. dry combined with the inability to stop to win the game. [Against an opponent like Oklahoma] we have to be able to get more saves to stay in the game better than tonight. I’m proud of how Taylah and Vivian got on a big stage and played really hard, and we’re going to have to keep fighting for some Big 12 wins. ”

On what his team needed to do to stop Oklahoma during their races:
β€œIt’s really hard to control momentum. You have to be able to make a big save, a big play or a big bucket. It’s one of those things where you have to keep fighting. You can’t. not continue to be beaten in the same way.If the other team scores the ball in the same way [time after time] we have to make a defensive adjustment that gets us to a stop. Offensively, we need to perform better and take better care of basketball. We also need to understand our scout and be determined to get buckets to stop the momentum of other teams or build our own momentum. ”

BEFORE VIVIAN GRAY:
“Today we learned that this team continues to fight. We have lost more than 20 points [in the third] and brought it back to a point where we could come back. It is therefore a positive point to take away from today’s match. More importantly, I think we’ve really learned that we have to play better defense. Oklahoma to score 97 points on our home turf is unacceptable. ”

INSIDE THE SCORE BOX:
β€’ Thomas recorded his first career game with 20 points. His previous career record was 18 points against Ball State.
β€’ Gray’s 20-point game was his 49th overall and 32nd game with at least 20 points against a Big 12 opponent.
β€’ Gray and Thomas are the first group of teammates to score more than 20 points in the same game since March 1, 2021.
β€’ The Lady Raiders set new season highs in points (91), goals scored (35), assists (21) and points scored in quarterback (29, fourth quarter).
β€’ The Lady Raiders have scored 90 points for the first time this season, and for the first time since February 20, 2021.
β€’ In that game, Tech scored 99 points in a 99-98 victory over Kansas.
β€’ Tech drops to 4-1 this season shooting at least 50 percent.
β€’ Sunday was the first time in the entire season that Tech had scored over 60 points and lost. The Lady Raiders were previously 7-0 scoring over 60.
β€’ Tech dominated OU 44-34 in painting.
β€’ After missing Tech’s final in Florida and leaving the game against Ole Miss due to injury, Khadija Faye returned Sunday.

FOLLOWING:
The Lady Raiders first hit the road in the Big 12 when they traveled to No.12 in Texas on Wednesday. The Austin departure is set for 7 p.m. on the Longhorn network. The game against Texas will be Tech’s fourth straight game against a team with only one loss (Ole Miss, LSU and OU).

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