Seattle built a 24-point halftime lead en route to its 80-61 victory over Louisiana Tech Friday in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament at the Orleans Arena.
With the loss, Louisiana Tech's season comes to an end as the Lady Techsters finished the year 14-17 overall. Seattle advances to the championship game to face Idaho, who was an 84-82 winner of Utah State earlier in the day.
"It's a tough one for (us)," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "Our kids had a rough start to the game. We dug ourselves a big hole early. We didn't put the ball in the basketball and we didn't defend. The second half we put more pressure on them, and we scored more. If we could have put two halves of that together, we would have had a better opportunity.
Seattle came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as the Redhawks built an early lead behind the play of guard Sylvia Shephard, who scored the first eight points of the game. Kacie Sowell's jumper with 14:14 to play gave SU a 12-0 advantage as the Lady Techsters didn't score until Lulu Perry's jumper with 13:25 to play in the half.
Tech sophomore forward Whitney Frazier, who has been the Lady Techsters most consistent offensive player over the past month, picked up two fouls in the opening four minutes of action and sat the remainder of the half.
"Not having Whitney Frazier on the floor really hurt us," said Tech head coach Teresa Weatherspoon. "If you don't have Whitney in, we are in trouble. She has been our everything. Her energy and leadership is so important to us. When she went out, it was a big loss for us. Seattle really took advantage of it."
The Redhawks maintained their double digit lead for the rest of the first half. Ashley Ward joined Shephard and Sowell in the offensive assault as back-to-back three-pointers by Ward pushed the advantage out to 34-12 with 2:41 to play in the first half. Seattle led 38-14 at the break.
Tech hit only 17 percent (5-29) of its field goals in the opening half while Seattle connected on 52 percent (15-29), including 4-of-7 from three-point land.
After the Lady Techsters scored the first five points of the second half on a layup by Frazier and a conventional three-point play by Perry to cut the deficit to 38-19, Seattle answered. Tech came out of the locker room with full-court pressure but the Redhawks were able to solve it and push the advantage out to 55-25 on a jumper by Brenda Adhiambo with 13:01 to play in the game.
However, the Lady Techsters continued to press and continued to fight as Tech forced 27 turnovers by Seattle in the game, including 18 in the final 20 minutes of play.
"I'm always proud of these kids," Weatherspoon said. "Sometimes it is not easy being in my presence. It's not easy. I'm demanding. They work hard. They work very hard. The pressure we put on in the second half is how we have to play all the time. I'm proud of the fight they put on in the second half."
Behind Perry, who scored 17 of her game-high 23 in the second half, and Frazier, who scored all 12 of her points in the final half, the Lady Techsters eventually whittled the deficit down to 66-49 with under four minutes to play. Perry had a three-point shot in transition that could have cut the lead down to 14 but was unable to connect as Seattle U pushed the lead back to 22 with two minutes to play.
After scoring only 14 points in the first half, the Lady Techsters shot 50 percent (16-32) from the field and 13-of-14 from the free throw line to score 47 points after the break.
For the game, Tech hit 34 percent (21-61) from the field, only 2-of-12 from the three-point line and 17-of-18 from the free throw line. Seattle shot 55 percent (27-49) from the field, 7-of-12 from the three-point line and 19-of-25 from the free throw line. The Redhawks outrebounded Tech 40-26.