Mallard gets mauled

Texas Tech women's basketball forward, Kierra Mallard, gets blocked during a loss to Oklahoma in United Spirited Arena on February 29. Tech will open up its conference tournament play today against Texas.

Texas Tech and Texas will meet for the third time this season when they meet at the Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday in Kansas City, Mo.

The Lady Raiders are going into the conference tournament with a goal to win it, Tech senior Jordan Barncastle said.

“I think that we know that this is anybody’s tournament,” she said. “This is your time to shine and kind of take what we’ve been successful with in the past and what we need to improve upon and we get another chance. Another opportunity, and I think that it’s important for us to stay positive and use Saturday night as an energy swing in momentum and keep it going.”

Tech is coming off a 64-63 win at Kansas State that snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Lady Raiders were able to knock down shots in the game against the Wildcats, Barncastle said.

“We were hitting shots,” she said. “We’ve outrebounded teams and lost. We’ve outhustled teams and lost. We’ve defended teams well and come up on the short end. It’s just all about hitting shots and being consistent and staying with it. I think that we did all of those things Saturday night and got the ball rolling. Hopefully we will just use this momentum and keep it going.”

The team has a boost of confidence after getting the win in Manhattan, Kan., Tech junior guard Monique Smalls said.

“Getting a win like (Barncastle) said, it’s an extra boost,” she said. “Use that momentum to go in — all the emotions you had in that game — to go into the next game.”

The team with the most desire will win the tournament, Smalls said.

“It’s big because it’s a win or lose,” she said. “It’s one of those things that shows where your heart is. It shows where your mind and your mentality is. And just the tournament is just going to be about who wants it more, and I know my team wants it more, so we’re going to show it.”

Smalls was named to the All-Big 12 Defensive team Monday afternoon, but said the entire team deserves credit for her individual award.

“It’s a good feeling,” she said, “but I’m not satisfied with it because I know my whole team, they deserve an award for the amount of effort we put in, so we just need to take that and go on to the Big 12 and the post-tournament.”

The honor recognizes the hard work Smalls has shown on defense all season long, Lady Raider coach Kristy Curry said.

“That’s certainly the ultimate compliment when you have coaches that recognize your talent on the defensive end, and she’s definitely deserving,” she said. “When you look at the company that she’s in with (Brittney) Griner and (Odyssey) Sims and (Ashley) Gayle and (Sydney) Carter — that’s a pretty amazing five, so that’s a great complement to Monique (Smalls) and well deserved.”

Tech junior Kelsi Baker went down in practice with a severely sprained ankle in practice last Thursday and is still questionable for the game against Texas, Curry said. 

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