South Florida-Texas Tech Preview
Texas Tech stumbled late in 2012-13 and enters the NCAA
tournament on a season-worst three-game losing streak. Luckily for
the Lady Red Raiders, they get to open play Saturday night on their
Tenth-seeded South Florida takes on No. 7 seed Texas Tech, the
host team that’s appearing in its 20th NCAA tournament two decades
after bringing the national title to West Texas.
The Lady Raiders are in the NCAA tournament for only the second
time in seven seasons under coach Kristy Curry. They were tough to
beat at home this season, going 14-3.
South Florida (21-10) is back in the NCAA tournament for the
first time since 2006.
Texas Tech’s defense allowed opponents to make 40.2 percent of
their field goals this season and there will be no day off against
the Bulls. USF has a twin threat – sisters Andrea and Andrell Smith
– who can put points on the board in a hurry (combined 30.3 per
Texas Tech guard Monique Smalls said facing the Smiths will
remind her of Big 12 guards like Oklahoma State’s Tiffany Bias or
Oklahoma’s Aaryn Ellenberger.
“They are very, very quick and they love to get out to push the
ball,” the senior point guard said. “They know where the other is.
We’ve already faced that, so we’re all ready to come out and face
The Bulls also have guard Inga Orekhova, third on the team with
12.2 points per game.
“We’re going to go as far as these three guys right here are
going to take us, and that’s been our story all year,” Bulls coach
Jose Fernandez said of the Smiths and Orekhova. “We’ve got to make
sure we take good shots. We love to shoot the three, look at our
stats. That’s a big part of it. We can’t come down and take
contested, quick shots.”
Curry thinks the two teams are very similar in guard play but
believes the game could come down to post play. For the Lady
Raiders, that’s Kelsi Baker (10.6 ppg) and Christine Hyde (9.5
ppg); Akila McDonald (3.7 ppg) and Alisia Jenkins (6.2 ppg) play in
the post for the Bulls.
“Their post players are underrated,” Curry said. “Seems like
when they need a play made both those post players step up.”
A strong finish to the regular season, including back-to-back
wins over Top-25 teams Louisville and Syracuse, helped propel the
Bulls onto the NCAA bubble. They put up another strong showing
against No. 2 Notre Dame in the Big East tournament before falling
75-66 in the quarterfinals.