CANYON, Texas — The Texas Tech Lady Raiders return to action Sunday afternoon when they clash with the UNLV Lady Rebels at the First United Bank Center.
Tip-off is set for 2 p.m., and fans can watch all the action on ESPN+.
The matchup against UNLV will be Techs first game action in 10 days, as the Lady Raiders last took to the court on Dec. 2 against Georgia.
Sunday’s contest against the Lady Rebels will also be a homecoming for five members of the Tech program, as head coach Krista Gerlich, combo-guard Bryn Gerlich, guard Lexy Hightower, Chief of Staff Jared Boyd and Director of Basketball Operations Jordan Vessels return to West Texas A&M.
Gerlich spent seven seasons (2006-13) as the head coach of the Lady Buffs program, winning three Lone Star Conference titles and 168 of her 305 career wins.
Gerlich was twice named The Lone Star Conference South Division Coach of Year (2007, 2010), and guided her team to the first NCAA D-II Elite Eight since 1997 in 2009. During her final season (2009-10), Gerlich’s Lady Buffs went an outstanding 30-4 overall and 10-2 in Lone Star Conference play.
Sunday’s game is also a homecoming for Hightower, who spent the first five years of her college basketball career at WT. Hightower scored over 1,600 points in her career and was twice named the Lone Star Conference Player of the Year. Hightower grad-transferred to Tech ahead of the 2021-22 season.
The younger Gerlich will also be returning home, as the combo-guard spent much of her grade school career living in the Canyon area.
Tech’s final two members with ties to WT and Canyon, Boyd and Vessels, are also returning home. A former standout for the Lady Buffs, Vessels played in 126 games during her WT career, including in the 2013 D-II National Championship game.
Boyd, a former practice player and student assistant coach under Gerlich, also returns to West Texas A&M. Boyd earned his undergraduate degree from WT in 2012.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP:
MATCHUP: Texas Tech (6-2) vs. UNLV (6-2)
DATE: Sunday, December 12, 2021
TIME: 2 p.m.
LOCATION: First United Bank Center (Canyon, Texas)
TV: Big 12 Now/ESPN +
RADIO: Texas Tech Radio Network/The Varsity App
The Red Raiders lead the all-time series 3-1 overall. Sunday’s matchup will be the first neutral site battle and the first between the two programs since 2008. Tech has won back-to-back matchups against the Lady Rebs.
LAST TIME OUT FOR THE LADY RAIDERS:
For the second time this season, the Lady Raiders will look to rebound from a loss, as Tech fell 66-56 to then No. 20 Georgia last Thursday (Dec. 2) despite the return of All-American Vivian Gray.
In that contest, Tech got off to a perfect 9-0 start, and led 21-14 after one, but the nationally-ranked Lady Bulldogs rebounded to take the remaining three quarters.
The difference in the contest were 22 Tech turnovers, that UGA was able to turn into 28 points.
In defeat, Khadija Faye scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, while Gray scored 12 points in her return. Faye also grabbed five boards and recorded six of Tech’s 12 total blocks. The six blocks were a new career high for Hadi.
Tech did lead the contest for 24:04 and had the largest lead (10) of the game.
KNOW YOUR FOE:
Sunday will also be a homecoming for a member of the UNLV squad, as freshman Kenadee Winfrey will also return home. Winfrey, a native of Canyon, led the Eagles to a pair of district championships and regional quarterfinal appearances in 2018 and 2020.
Like the Lady Raiders, UNLV enters Sunday’s matchup at 6-2 overall. The Lady Rebels have won three straight overall after running past Cal State Bakersfield 71-56 last Sunday (Dec. 5). In that contest, Desi-Rae Young dropped a career-best 22 points and 10 rebounds to power her team to the wire-to-wire victory.
Freshman guard Kaira Jackson also played an important role for UNLV, as she scored a career-best 17 points and grabbed eight boards. Transfer Khayla Rooks stuffed the stat-sheet, scoring eight points, with 10 rebounds and six assists.
For the year, three Lady Rebs are averaging in double figures, including Young and Ball State transfer Essence Booker. Young is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds this season, while Booker has contributed 15.4 points.
Tech will need to control the glass Sunday, as UNLV are averaging 43.1 rebounds per game, and over 15 offensive rebounds a contest.
COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):
“UNLV will play extremely hard. They do a good job of playing team basketball and share the ball well. They play fast and score a lot of points. I expect them to come in, play hard and really get after us. It’s a great challenge for us. We’ll have to make sure we come off the break ready to play, and that we don’t fall behind early.”
On going back to Canyon:
“It’s going to be a great experience, and something that several people in our program are going to enjoy. But I also think that our entire team is going to be able to see what West Texas basketball is about. We have an opportunity to play a tough UNLV team, and then WT is going to play a game after us. It’s going to be a great environment, and a lot of people are really excited about the opportunity to watch both teams play.
The Lady Raiders won’t return to action until a week from Monday (Dec. 20) for the first of two games of the West Palm Beach Invitational. Monday’s matchup against Ole Miss will tip at 12:15 (CT). Fans can catch all of the action from the Sunshine State on FloSports and the Tech Sports Network.