On Saturday, interim coach Shimmy Gray-Miller was asked how she was doing on the heels of a 74-60 loss to Big 12 foe West Virginia.
She said she’s been better. But also worse.
It was the first day there was something more behind Gray-Miller’s eyes than unwavering enthusiasm for her team. She choked up after a game in which the Lady Raiders pushed back for a couple of third-quarter leads and trailed by single digits early in the fourth period against a team that beat them by 30 points less than a month ago in Morgantown, W. Va.
“What we talked about today before the game was results and reasons. Like, all these guys, they have every reason to quit,” Gray-Miller said.
And then there was an enormous pause as the tears built up.
“They each have had — It’s been a long year,” she . “And when you think about what some of these guys have been through since they’ve been at Tech, they haven’t just lost a coach. They’ve lost multiple coaches. They’ve lost multiple teammates. They’ve battled through injuries. Some of them are transfers, so this is supposed to be their second home. A fresh start. A new beginning. We talked about, this whole week, what this week was about and what this game was about.
“Every single kid in that locker room, they all have their reasons to give up, to give in, to quit, to make excuses, to shut it down. Wait for the new coach to come in and start it all over again. So, you have your reasons. Or you can get the results you want.”
The Lady Raiders (7-17, 1-12 Big 12), who recently had their locker room bug bombed because of a flu outbreak, were right there with 10 minutes to play.
Usual leading Mountaineers scorer Teana Muldrow had four fouls and was on the bench. The United Spirit Arena crowd, which had not seen a win at home since Dec. 21 against Incarnate Word, was on its feet.
Texas Tech made some baskets, but junior forward Naomi Davenport scored nine consecutive points. The margin never changed favorably for the Lady Raiders, and they dropped their sixth straight contest as well as their 12th of 13 league games.
“West Virginia is a fantastic team,” junior forward Zuri Sanders said. “They play with about six or seven girls for four quarters straight and give it their all every single quarter. Something we wanted to do was match their intensity. We definitely did that. Something (we were) scared of doing was coming out and not have a strong third quarter. I do feel like we trusted the process throughout the third quarter. It showed. I don’t think we gave up this entire game.
“And if there was an ounce of giving up, we were able to come back from it.”
Player of the Game
Naomi Davenport, Jr., F., West Virginia
Davenport helped the Mountaineers fend off Texas Tech’s second-half push and maybe, just maybe, kept West Virginia in position to pick up AP votes after falling out of the top 25 and then losing to Texas on Monday.
Brittany Brewer led Texas Tech for a second game with 13 points. Zuri Sanders and Lyndsey Whilby hit double digits for Texas Tech as well. … Forwards Jada Terry and Ionna McKenzie made returns after injuries sustained the past two weeks. Terry, who played 19 minutes in her third non-start of the year, played only the first two minutes of Kansas State game on Wednesday while McKenzie had been out since Jan. 27.
West Virginia hosts Kansas at 7 p.m. Central time on Wednesday.
Texas Tech visits No. 6 Texas on Wednesday, a rematch of a 90-39 loss suffered Jan. 20 in Lubbock. The game will be aired on Longhorn Network.
WEST VIRGINIA 74, TEXAS TECH 60
WEST VIRGINIA — Katrina Pardee 7-12 2-2 19, Naomi Davenport 8-20, 0-0 18, Teana Muldrow 7-11 3-3 18, Kristina King 5-12 0-0 10, Ashley Jones 2-7 0-0 5, Chania Ray 1-8 2-2 4 Destiny Harden 0-0 0-0 0, Theresa Ekhelar 0-0 0-0 0.
TEXAS TECH— Brittany Brewer 6-9 1-3 13, Zuri Sanders 5-5 0-0 12, Lyndsey Whilby 3-6 3-4 11, Erin DeGrate 3-7 2-2 8, Grayson Bright 2-5 0-0 6, Brielle Blaire 2-8 0-0 5, Jada Terry 1-4 0-0 3, Ionna McKenzie 1-1 0-0 2, Angel Hayden 0-4 0-0 0, Haley Bruedigam 0-0 0-0 0.
West Virginia 22 12 22 18 — 74
Texas Tech 13 19 18 10 — 60
3-point goals: West Virginia 7-20 (Pardee 3-5, Davenport 2-6, Jones 1-2, Muldrow 1-2, Ray 0-5), Texas Tech 6-10 (Whilby 2-2, Bright 2-4, Sanders 1-1, Blaire 1-3). Total fouls: West Virginia 16, Texas Tech 15. Fouled out: none. Technical foul: none. Rebounds: West Virginia 36 (King 12), Texas Tech 31 (Sanders 6, DeGrate 6, Hayden 6). Assists: West Virginia 17 (Pardee 5), Texas Tech 12 (Brewer 3, Bright 3, Hayden 3). Turnovers: West Virginia 10 (Muldrow 3), Texas Tech 20 (Brewer 4). Blocked shots: West Virginia 3 (King 3), Texas Tech 4 (Terry 2). Records: West Virginia 18-7, 6-7. Texas Tech 7-17, 1-12.