A second half spurt by the second-seeded Middle Tennessee State Lady Raiders wore down the Lady Techsters, resulting in a 77-58 season-ending loss for Tyler Summitt’s squad. Playing their second game in two days, the Techsters hit the wall midway through the second half.
Senior Whitney Frazier, when asked if exhaustion played a part in the win, hesitated before answering. Summitt, 16-15 in his first year in Ruston, looked at one of his five seniors and said, “You’re allowed to say yes if you want. They usually aren’t allowed to say yes when asked if they’re tired.”
Frazier quietly admitted, “Yes. Fatigue did catch up to us a little bit.”
Louisiana Tech trailed 41-36 with 14:15 to play MTSU’s advantage ballooned to 15 points less than five minutes later and never dipped below 13 points the remainder of the game.
Proving some statistics don’t measure up in reality when viewed in a box score, both teams finished with 39 rebounds but the second-seeded squad appeared to get the more “important” rebounds.
“Absolutely,” Summitt said. “And you also have to look at rebounds and the percentage of shot attempts and shot misses. Definitely, I think they dominated the glass, especially in the second half and on their end.”
The Techsters game plan of taking all-CUSA first-teamer Olivia Jones out of the mix early worked to perfection. Jones recorded her third personal foul at the 13:06 mark in the first half and spent the remainder of the opening frame on the pine. Even without Jones on the floor, the best Tech could fare was to keep the game close.
“We definitely should have taken advantage more of Jones being in foul trouble and had more of a cushion with her out,” Summitt said. “We struggled with turnovers and decision making and they executed their offense well. We went from man-to-man, to zone… man-to-man, to zone… man-to-man, to zone. They really got what what they wanted to no matter what we were in.”
On two separate occasions late in the first half, the Techsters had chances to tie the game or cut the lead to one but hurried shots that turned into MTSU points on the other end of the floor.
Summitt and his staff will say good-bye to five seniors and welcome five freshmen and two transfers next season. “It’s back to the drawing board as far as X’s and O’s But academically and with all the outside stuff, I really believe our seniors are prepared to go out and succeed in life.”
No one in the women’s game has been more successful than Summitt’s mother, Pat Summitt. When asked how his mother would grade his first year as a head coach, the offspring said his mom, along with the late Wizard of Westwood John Wooden didn’t believe there was such a thing as an A+ game or season. “You’ve got to get better, you’ve got to get better. (She’s) teaching me how to get better and that’s what I always want to do, fifty years down the road.”