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Nov. 23, 1996

Lady Raiders Open Season With A Victory

LUBBOCK, Texas - The No. 11-ranked Texas Tech Lady Raiders picked up right where they left off.

The Lady Raiders (1-0), coming off a season in which they went 27-5, won the final Southwest Conference title and advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in as many years, dismantled the Lamar Lady Cardinals 86-42 (0-1) in the first game of the season, running their home-win streak to 31 games, the second-longest active streak in the nation.

Junior forward Alicia Thompson scored Tech's first four points en route to 10 first-half points. Thompson finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds for a double-double.

Sophomore guard Rene Hanebutt finished with a game-high and career-high 27 points on eight of 14 shooting. Hanebutt hit four of nine shots from outside the three-point arc.

The game was never in doubt...at least after the first 10 minutes.

The Lady Cardinals had managed a 7-7 tie with 14:04 left in the first half when the Lady Raiders exploded for seven points in 76 seconds to start a 13-0 run that broke the game open. By halftime, the Lady Raider led 39-22 despite shooting only 39 percent in the first half.

Hanebutt hit a three-pointer on the first possession of the second half as the Lady Raiders continued to roll over the Cardinals, who were 14-15 last year.

Freshman guard Melinda Schmucker finished off a three-point play with 7:41 left in the game to put the Raiders up 72-37. On the next possession, Schmucker stole an errant pass and went coast-to-coast for a layup. Schmucker had a game-high four steals as the Raiders collected 15 takeaways and seven blocked shots.

Tech head coach Marsha Sharp played fourteen different players in the game, and 11 of those scored.

"I thought it was a good start [to the season]," said Sharp. "We shifted a lot of people around and will probably continue to to that until we find combinations that work well."

Schmucker, starting in just her first college game finished with eight points and five assists.

"At first I was nervous, but when I got on the court I felt fine," said Schmucker after the game.

Hanebutt, who was also seven of eight from the charity stripe, gave her powerful inside teammates the credit.

"I think it's a lot easier for the three of us on the perimeter to score when the whole defense collapses in on `Shell'," said Hanebutt, referring to Thompson by her nickname.

The Lady Raiders next face Grambling at home Monday night before embarking on a two-game road trip at UCLA Nov. 29 and at North Texas Dec. 2.

More On The Lady Cardinals

With obvious holes to fill, the Lady Cardinal roster takes a new look. Lamar returns only four letterwinners from a 14-15 campaign. Despite the sub .500 overall record, Lamar was 8-6 in Sunbelt play which was good enough for fourth place.

The Lady Cardinal biggest loss is guard Laura Webb, whose 24.4 points per game ranked fifth in the nation in Division I. Three returning guards will look to fill the scoring role that Webb left. Lone senior Debbie Cooper could move into the starting lineup after averaging 7.7 ppg off the bench last season. Juniors Jodie Brand (7.7 ppg), who started in all 19 games last season and Mary Ann Jones (3.5 ppg) should also had an impact in the guard spot. Up front Lamar returns only one starter. Sophomore forward Denise Scally was second on the team in scoring (9.2 ppg) and rebounding (6.1 rpg) in her 29 game appearances.

A pair of 6-2 post players are new to the Lamar lineup. Freshman Marie Grigsby of Salado High School and transfer Sofaia Cavu of Allen Hancock Junior College will provide much needed size down low.

Texas Tech holds a 4-0 series record over the Lady Cardinals. During Coach Sharp's tenure, Tech has a 3-0 advantage. In their last meeting on Jan. 9, 1995, the Lady Raiders defeated Lamar 86-60 in Beaumont. Lady Raider Connie Robinson led Tech with 18 points, while Nikki Heath had a team high 11 rebounds.

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