When Texas Tech’s lengthy, formidable frontcourt was forced to defend on the perimeter Sunday, Texas State took advantage and spoiled the Lady Raiders’ season opener, 87-70, behind 44 points from guard Taeler Deer.
“They needed to make quite a few 3s against us and put the ball up,” Texas Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. “And stretch it. And make our big kids have to guard on the perimeter. And attack with their two guards. And they did that. For us, again, our execution was poor.”
Forward Jada Terry led Texas Tech with 22 points on 10 of 13 shooting and Recee Caldwell finished with 13 points. Dayo Olabode and Brittany Brewer scored 10 points apiece.
“Just getting into those open shots in the paint will require execution,” Brewer said of the Lady Raiders’ frontcourt combinations, which also include Terry and transfer Erin DeGrate (8 points). “Once we start getting our execution down during the games, that’s when that’s going to open up.”
Texas State, which did not have a win against a Power 5 opponent last season, built a commanding 66-47 lead late in the third quarter when Texas Tech endured a three-minute scoring drought.
With five minutes left, DeGrate hit two freethrows to pull Texas Tech to within 11 points. The Bobcats responded with 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the game away.
“Our inside game is a strength and we’ve got to continue to pass it there,” Whitaker said. “Execute better. Get to multiple sides of the floor. We rarely got a second or third side of the floor. Just forcing things and kind of going off on our own tangents at times.”
Brooke Holle scored 17 points for the Bobcats on 7 of 11 shooting and Toshua Leavitt, the team’s second-returning leading scorer, had 12 points (4 of 14 from 3-point range).
Texas State led 26-23 at the end of the first quarter and was paced by 16 points in the period from Deer, a selection to last year’s Sun Belt Conference Third team.
“That’s who Taeler Deer is,” Texas State coach Zenarae Antoine. “The thing we’ve always asked from Taeler Deer is to be consistent. I think that’s what she struggled with last year, but we’ll see as games play out. My philosophy is — she’s in her senior year, we know what she has the capability of doing.”
The Lady Raiders trailed 43-39 at halftime and committed 20 turnovers — which the Bobcats turned into 25 points — while forcing just seven. The Lady Raiders finished 11 of 20 on free throw attempts and 3 of 18 from 3-point range (16.7 percent).
“(Texas State’s) is not that high-pressure of a defense,” Whitaker said. “We didn’t really want to do the work to get open. To catch in the right spot. Then execute something. We just were out of rhythm and out of sync from the beginning.”
Player of the Game
Taeler Deer, Sr., Texas State: The Bobcats’ guard shot 17 of 27 from the floor (5 of 9 from 3-point range) and finished with a career-high 44 points, eight assists and five rebounds. Deer’s previous career-high was 32 points.
Texas State hosts Incarnate Word on 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Texas Tech hosts Florida A&M 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Entering Sunday, Texas Tech had won 11 straight home openers, dating back to the 2005-06 season. In the last meeting between the two teams, Texas Tech won 81-77 in overtime in 2014.
The Lady Raiders will play 10 more pre-conference games before starting Big 12 play on Dec. 28 against Oklahoma State.