Women's Basketball Enters Big 12 Tourney as No. 2 Seed

Second-team all-conference Plenette Pierson and the Lady Raiders enter post-season play on Wednesday.

Second-team all-conference Plenette Pierson and the Lady Raiders enter post-season play on Wednesday.
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March 5, 2001

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Wednesday's Game
No. 2 seed and 13th/14th-ranked Texas Tech (22-5) will play either No. 7 seed Texas or No. 10 seed Nebraska March 7 at 6 p.m. in the second round of the Big 12 Conference Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Tech has a 7-2 record in the tournament, going 1-1 last year after beating Colorado, 76-60, in the quarterfinals and losing to Texas, 68-50, in the semifinals.

Scouting the Opponents
Texas owns a 19-11 overall record and concluded the Big 12 at 7-9.

Freshman Stacy Stephens paces the Longhorns in scoring with a 10.9 average, followed by senior JoRuth Woods at 10.0. Stephens is also the top rebounder, grabbing 9.4 boards per outing. Junior Kenya Larkin has team highs of 109 assists and 54 steals. Junior Tracy Cook is the top shot blocker with 33 blocks. On the year, UT is shooting 39.9 percent from the field, 29.9 percent from three-point range and 64.8 percent from the free throw line.

Jody Conradt is in her 25th year at the helm of the Longhorns, establishing a record of 648-184. She is in her 32nd year has a head coach with a 765-246 overall record.

Nebraska enters the tournament with a 12-17 overall record and finished the Big 12 with a mark of 4-12.

Senior Casey Leonhardt leads the Huskers in scoring with a 13.0 average, followed by freshman Shannon Howell at 8.4. Leonhardt is also the top rebounder as she averages 7.0 boards a game. Howell has team highs of 86 assists and 35 steals. Leonhardt is the top shot blocker with 49 blocks. On the year, the Huskers are shooting 41.4 percent from the field, 32 percent from three-point range and 66.8 percent from the free throw line.

Paul Sanderford is in his fourth season at the helm of the Huskers, establishing a record of 74-52. He is in his 19th season as a head coach with an overall record of 439-172.

Series Records
vs. Texas
It will be the 63rd meeting between Texas Tech and Texas with Texas holding a 46-16 advantage. The Lady Raiders won the last meeting, 76-60, Feb. 24 in Austin. Texas won the first game this year, 63-57, in Lubbock Feb. 10. Last year in the Big 12 Tournament, Tech lost to UT, 68-50, in the semifinals on March 9.

vs. Nebraska
It will be the ninth meeting between Texas Tech and Nebraska with Tech holding a 6-2 advantage. The Lady Raiders won the only meeting this year, 60-55, in Lincoln, Neb. on Jan. 16. The last time the Huskers were victorious was Feb. 9, 1997 in a 62-57 triumph in Lincoln, Neb.

Last Time vs. Texas
Feb. 24, 2001 - Plenette Pierson had 24 points and 12 rebounds as No. 15 Texas Tech avenged a stunning home loss two weeks earlier with a 76-60 over No. 22 Texas.

Pierson was 9-of-19 from the floor.

Natalie Ritchie added 14 points for Texas Tech, including a critical four-point play when she was fouled on a 3-pointer. The play broke a 44-44 tie with 12:49 to play and Tech steadily pulled away.

Kenya Larkin led Texas with 15 points, 14 in the first half.

Neither team led by more than six points for the first 30 minutes before consecutive baskets by Pierson sparked a 14-7 Tech run that made it 65-54 with 3:29 to play.

Texas outrebounded the Lady Raiders 45-37. Tech made up for the difference with 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range and allowed Texas just two attempts from beyond the arc.

Tech's defense, which allowed Larkin to finish several first-half fast breaks with pull-up jumpers, held the Longhorns point guard to 0-of-6 shooting in the second half.

Jia Perkins scored 13 points for Tech and Jolee Ayers added 10 on 5-of-5 shooting. Stacy Stephens had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Texas.

Last Time vs. Nebraska
Jan. 17, 2001 - Amber Tarr scored 18 points, and No. 9 Texas Tech took advantage of 33 turnovers in a 66-50 victory over Nebraska .

Plenette Pierson scored 16 and Katrisa O'Neal added 10 points for the Lady Raiders, who have won five straight and nine of 10.

The Huskers had 18 turnovers by halftime and tied the season high they set in losses to Creighton and Auburn.

Greichaly Cepero, Margaret Richards and Steph Jones scored nine points each to lead Nebraska. Jones also had nine rebounds, and Cepero finished with eight before fouling out with 6:33 left.

Tech didn't shoot particularly well, going 22-for-64 from the field, but the turnovers were too much for Nebraska to overcome. The Raiders scored 29 points off turnovers.

Tarr made a 3-pointer and Tanisha Ellison hit a pair of jumpers as Tech opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go up 44-26.

Nebraska used an 8-0 run, getting four points from Mitchell, to cut the lead to 56-40, but that was as close as it got.

The Huskers stayed in it early in the first half despite eight turnovers in the first 10 minutes. Nebraska's zone forced Tech to the outside, where the Raiders were just 7-for-20 to start the game.

After Nebraska's Monique Whitfield tied it at 17-all with a jump shot in the lane, the Huskers turned the ball over on eight of their next nine possessions, allowing Tech to go on a 14-0 run.

Pierson had seven points during the run, which started on a three-point play off a missed free throw.

Steph Jones' short jumper with 3:25 left before halftime ended a 5-minute, 39-second scoreless drought for Nebraska.

A Win Wednesday Would...
...give Tech a 23-5 record.

...give Tech an 8-2 record in the Big 12 Tournament

...give Marsha Sharp her 457th career victory.

Lady Raider Head Coach Marsha Sharp
One of the most respected and well-known coaches in Texas Tech history, head coach Marsha Sharp is 456-139 in her 19th year at the helm of the Lady Raiders. She has led the Lady Raiders to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances, including 11 consecutive, and six NCAA Sweet 16 and three Elite Eight appearances and the NCAA National Championship in 1993. Sharp has led the Lady Raiders to three-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season titles and two tournament crowns. While in the SWC, coach Sharp and the Lady Raiders never finished below third, they won or shared the last five championships, and they captured three Post-Season Classic titles.

A 1974 graduate of Wayland Baptist University, Sharp was named the National Coach of the Year in 1993 and 1994. She also reaped SWC Coach of the Year honors seven times, five consecutively.

The Last Time Out
(AP) - Jia Perkins scored 21 points to lead No. 14 Texas Tech to a 68-60 upset of No. 10 Iowa State (Feb. 28) in a game that determined second place in the Big 12.

Texas Tech went on a 12-5 run in the opening minutes of the second half, following a 23-4 run in the first half.

But after building a 55-41 lead at 11:43 to play, the Lady Raiders saw their lead begin to dwindle. The Cyclones went on a 17-7 run to get to 62-60 with 3:59 to play before Tech's Candi White hit a 3-pointer to re-establish a five-point cushion, 65-60.

Both teams struggled to score during the remainder of the game as both missed baskets and Iowa State began to foul.

With 33 seconds left, Perkins hit a basket and White went to the free-throw line to secure the win.

Iowa State was led by Lindsay Wilson's 16 points. Angie Welle added 14, Tracy Gahan 11 and Megan Taylor 10.

Plenette Pierson added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Tech, while Katrisa O'Neal scored 11.

At the half, Tech led 39-32 following the Lady Raiders' run.

The Cyclones had jumped out to a 14-9 lead following eight unanswered points in the first few minutes. But Perkins sparked Tech's run with a basket at the 12:03 mark. She scored another basket, a 3-pointer and two free throws during the run. Pierson added another seven points and O'Neal scored five.

When Tech built its lead to 32-21, Welle fought back by hitting a basket from just inside the arc with 4:05 left in the half. It had been almost three minutes since her team had scored. Welle's shot was followed by a successful trip to the free-throw line by Taylor, a 3-pointer and two more Iowa State baskets, which allowed the Cyclones to move within seven at the half.

Team Leaders
Texas Tech is led in scoring by sophomore Plenette Pierson, who is averaging 14.5 points a game. Freshman Jia Perkins is averaging 13.1 points, while senior Katrisa O'Neal and junior Amber Tarr are averaging 10.8 and 9.3 points, respectively. Pierson is the top rebounder as she is averaging 7.9 boards a game followed by junior Tanisha Ellison at 6.0. Freshman Jolee Ayers has a team-high 5.25 field goal percentage, while Ellison is shooting 51 percent and freshman Dionne Brown 50.6 percent. Perkins has team highs of 104 assists and 72 steals. Pierson is the top shot blocker with 37 blocks. On the year, the Lady Raiders are shooting 43.4 percent from the field, 35.1 percent from three-point range and 68.9 percent from the free throw line.

NCAA Statistical Leaders
As of games through Feb. 26, Texas Tech ranks 13th in scoring margin at 14.6 and 14th in scoring defense at 58.7.

Tech Tops Schools With Winning Conference Records
Texas Tech ranks first among schools with winning (over .500) conference records in 11 or more consecutive seasons (active streaks only). Tech leads the way with 19-straight years of having a winning record in conference play, which includes the 2000-01 season. Second is Notre Dame with 18 years followed by Virginia and Western Kentucky with 17 years.

Pierson, O'Neal and Perkins Get All-Big 12 Honors
Sophomore Plenette Pierson was named second-team All-Big 12, while senior Katrisa O'Neal was a third-team honoree and freshman Jia Perkins was an honorable mention selection.

Perkins Big 12 Rookie of the Week for Third Time
Freshman Jia Perkins was named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the third time this year for her performance against Iowa State Feb. 28. In that game, Perkins had 21 points and three rebounds. She went 8-of-13 from the field, and nailed three three-pointers in 37 minutes of play.

Pierson and Perkins Receive Post-Season Honors
Sophomore Plenette Pierson was named second-team All-America by Women's Basketball News Service, while freshman Jia Perkins was named to the All-Freshmen third team by WBNS. It is the first post-season honor for both this year.

Tarr and Ellison Receive Academic Honors
Junior Amber Tarr, a finance major, was named first-team Academic All-Big 12, while junior Tanisha Ellison, a communication studies major, was a second-team Academic All-Big 12 selection. It is the second honor for both.

Pierson Named Big 12 Player of the Week
Sophomore Plenette Pierson was named the Big 12 Player of the Week as she averaged 24.5 points and 12.5 rebounds to lead Texas Tech to two road victories over Top 25 teams last week. She recorded back-to-back double-doubles as she poured in 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds at #16 Colorado and then numbered 24 points and 12 rebounds at #21 Texas. At Colorado, she also had a career-high five blocks, while hitting 11-of-13 free throw attempts in 33 minutes of play. On the week Pierson shot 44.4 percent from the field (16-of-36) and 77.3 percent from the free throw line (17-of-22).

Back-to-Back-to-Back Double-Doubles for Pierson
Sophomore Plenette Pierson got her sixth, seventh and eight double-doubles of the season in back-to-back-to-back games at Colorado Feb. 21, at Texas Feb. 24 and vs. Iowa State Feb. 28. At Colorado, she poured in a game-high 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 33 minutes of play and at Texas she scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 32 minutes of action. At home against Iowa State, she had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes.

Off the Bench
Freshmen Natalie Ritchie, Jia Perkins and Jolee Ayers all came off the bench to score in double figures in the win at Texas Feb. 24. Ritchie poured in 14 points, tying a career-high three three-pointers, in 30 minutes, while Perkins added 13 points in 37 minutes and Ayers finished with 10 points in 24 minutes. Freshman Dionne Brown added three points to as Tech's bench scored 40 of its 76 points.

Brown Blocks High
Freshman Dionne Brown recorded a career-high three blocks in the win at Texas Feb. 24. Her previous high was two, which she had done three times this season.

12th-Straight 20-Win Season
The win at Colorado Feb. 21 marked the 12th-straight 20-win season for the Lady Raiders and the 16th time in the 19 years under head coach Marsha Sharp.

Block Buster = Pierson
Sophomore Plenette Pierson tallied a career-high five blocks in the win at Colorado Feb. 21. Her previous career high was three, which she had done five times in her career, including three times this season.

Another Season High From the Charity Stripe
Texas Tech shot a new season-high from the free throw line at Colorado Feb. 21. The Lady Raiders shot 87.9 percent, connecting on 29 of 33 attempts. Sophomore Plenette Pierson and freshman Jia Perkins both went 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

Pierson Improves at Free Throw Line
Sophomore Plenette Pierson has been making a big improvement at the free throw line from the beginning of the season until now. In the first seven games of the season, Pierson shot 60.3 percent, hitting 35 of 58 attempts, but in the last six games, she has connected on 35 of 43 attempts for an 81.4 percent.

Ayers Gets First Career Double-Double and Career High Boards
Freshman Jolee Ayers recorded her first career double-double as she had 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds against Oklahoma Feb. 17. Ayers' previous career high in rebounds was nine against Kansas State.

First Time in 10 Years
Texas Tech's two-straight home losses against Texas Feb. 10 and Oklahoma Feb. 17 marked the first time in 10 years the Lady Raiders have lost back-to-back home games. The last time Tech lost two home games in row came in 1991 with losses to Arkansas, 64-62, Jan. 12 and to Texas, 66-63, Jan. 23.

First Win in Lawrence
Texas Tech's 49-45 win over Kansas Feb. 14 marked the first time the Lady Raiders had won in Lawrence, Kan. Tech is now 4-3 against the Jayhawks and 1-2 in Lawrence.

Streak Stopped
Texas Tech's 41-game home court winning streak came to a halt as the Lady Raiders lost at home against Texas, 63-57, Feb. 10. It also marked their first loss in the United Spirit Arena since it opened in Nov. 1999.

Second Big 12 Loss at Home
The Lady Raiders suffered their second ever Big 12 loss at home against Texas Feb. 10. The only other Big 12 game Tech has lost in Lubbock was against Oklahoma State, 78-56, Jan. 8, 1997.

Largest Crowd of the Season
Texas Tech had 14,852 fans in attendance for the game against Texas Feb. 10. It was the largest home crowd of the season and the third largest crowd ever at the United Spirit Arena.

Katrisa `O'Steal' Breaks Record
Senior Katrisa O'Neal is now Texas Tech's all-time career leader in steals with 340. She matched her career high of seven steals in the win at Nebraska Jan. 17 to surpass Camille Franklin's 303 steals to become the all-time leader.

Tech vs. the Top 25
Texas Tech is now 7-4 against teams ranked in the top 25 after beating No. 9 Iowa State Feb. 28. The Lady Raiders were victorious over No. 8 Penn State, No. 16 Southwest Missouri State, No. 13 Oregon, No. 23 Baylor, No. 16 Colorado and No. 21 Texas Feb. 24, while losing to No. 19 North Carolina State, twice to No. 12/10 Oklahoma (Jan. 28/Feb. 17) and No. 20 Texas (Feb. 10).

Lady Raiders in the Polls
Since January 20, 1992, the Lady Raiders have been ranked in the Top 25 in Associated Press and/or the USA Today poll a total of 171 weeks. That includes the Feb. 26 rankings of 13th by USA Today/ESPN poll and 14th by the AP.

Did You Know...
...that Tech has two players whose fathers played in the NFL - freshman Jia Perkins' dad, Johnny Perkins, played for the New York Giants and freshman Jolee Ayers' dad, the late John Ayers, played for the San Francisco 49ers.

...that all 12 players hail from the state of Texas.




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