This item originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.
By Luke DeRouen
Perhaps the remaining Western Athletic Conference opponents on Tech's women's basketball schedule should just stay home when the Techsters (10-2, 3-1 WAC) arrive on the scene.
Tech defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs 81-59 Saturday at the Thomas Assembly Center, marking the Techsters' second straight convincing WAC victory since being upset by Rice on Jan. 5, which was only the Techsters' second loss since joining the WAC in 2001.
The battle contained an extra twist as former Tech assistant coach Stacy Johnson-Klein returned to Ruston as Fresno State's head coach. And Johnson-Klein came to Ruston to do one thing -- beat the Lady Techsters.
Johnson-Klein kept her squad close in the first half and actually took a 16-13 lead midway through the first stanza.
Then, the Techsters turned up the heat with a 12-0 run which guided them to a 42-28 halftime lead.
The Techsters did not shoot well in the game, but they did take advantage of 35 Fresno State turnovers to keep their lead in the second half and send the Bulldogs back to California with a 22-point defeat.
"(Fresno State) doesn't quit, and they do a good job," Tech head coach Kurt Budke said. "They play a lot of people; they rebound the ball well. They make you take outside shots, and I don't think we shot the ball very well tonight."
Senior forward Trina Frierson scored 26 points on 11 of 17 shooting to lead the Techsters to victory. Amisha Carter, who played sparingly due to foul trouble, had 14 points, while Amber Obaze and Lakiste Barkus added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Techsters freed most of their frustration on an undersized Nevada squad in a 110-47 pounding last Thursday in Ruston.
The Wolf Pack scored the first bucket of the game but never came close to grabbing another lead.
The Techsters' defense swarmed all night forcing 37 Nevada turnovers and holding them to a meager 35 percent shooting form the field.
"I liked the chemistry of this team," Budke said. "If there is one thing that this team has to improve on, it's chemistry. I think that is just getting to know each other better, trusting each other and respecting each other. You saw a team on the same page tonight."
The Techsters shot the ball well with a 52 percent effort from the field, and used Nevada's sloppy ball handling to convert easy lay-ups into points throughout the game.
At halftime the Techsters were leading 54-21, thanks in part to a 23-6 run midway through the half.
The second half began much like the first as Carter and Barkus took turns stealing passes that resulted in four quick points for the Techsters. Barkus finished her steal with a dazzling spin move around a helpless Nevada defender before an effortless lay-up.
Budke pulled his starters midway through the second half, as they enjoyed watching the reserves maintain intensity and cap-off the dominating victory.
"Tonight was about us," Budke said, who didn't play any starter longer than 23 minutes. "If we come ready to play with the energy and excitement that we had tonight, we will be tough to beat."
Frierson, Carter, Erica Smith-Taylor, Shan Moore, Obaze and Aarica Ray-Boyd each scored in double figures. Frierson led the Techsters with 20 points, followed closely by Carter's 19 points. Smith-Taylor and Moore each hit for 14 points, and Obaze and Ray-Boyd both chipped in 12 points.
"The Rice game is in the past," Smith-Taylor said. "There isn't anything we can do about it but learn and move on. That's what we did tonight."
The Techsters may have moved on from the Rice game, but it was still a painful experience, as the unthinkable took place on Jan. 5 in Houston.
The Rice Owls, who ended the Techsters' first WAC winning streak two seasons ago, spoiled the party again in an 87-84 overtime victory over Tech.
The Techsters trailed 41-29 at halftime but came out of the locker room on fire and took a 67-66 lead with 1:31 remaining in the game.
However, Rice responded, sent the game to overtime and came away with the three-point victory, as Frierson and Crain fouled out and the game slipped away.
Carter recorded 26 points and 19 rebounds in the loss, while Smith-Taylor added 20 points.