LUBBOCK (AP) – Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry was in the stands in Atlanta in 1993, watching her predecessor and the Lady Raiders win the university’s lone national team championship.
Curry and her team on Sunday successfully ended a weekend celebration of that title as every player on the 1993 team returned to Lubbock and watched the Lady Raiders down in-state rival Texas 69-62.
Sunday’s game was played 20 years to the day that the Lady Raiders beat the Longhorns in Austin to continue a winning streak that ended at 19 when they beat Ohio State 84-82 in the final.
“What a great day that was for Lubbock,” said Curry, who was an assistant at Tulane 20 years ago. “And we’re going to see if we can do that again.”
Chynna Brown scored 16 points to lead Texas Tech over Texas 69-62 on Sunday, adding to Lady Raiders fans celebrating the 20th anniversary of their national title.
Casey Morris added 15 and Kelsi Baker got 14 for Texas Tech (19-7, 9-5 Big 12), who got a boost in their hopes of returning to the NCAA tournament. Since Curry arrived in Lubbock in 2006, the Lady Raiders have only been to the NCAAs once, losing in the first round two years ago to St. John’s.
This is the first season Texas Tech has won nine conference games under Curry.
Chassidy Fussell scored 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lead the Longhorns, who now have lost four straight. Imani McGee-Stafford got 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Longhorns.
The entire 1993 team was back in town for a celebration of the title. The players, Marsha Sharp and her coaches were introduced at halftime to some of the loudest cheers in the arena in years. Swoopes, who now lives back in the Lubbock area, scored 47 points in the title game, a record that still stands.
None of the players ever competed in the arena, which opened in 1999 and which many have called “The House that Marsha Built.”
Before the game Sunday, Swoopes said a game against Texas always brought out the best in the Lady Raiders. They lost to Texas in Lubbock in January 1993 but beat the Longhorns in Austin the next month for their seventh straight win that season.
When they returned home to tens of thousands of adoring fans after winning the title in Atlanta, the streak was at 19.
Texas was the team to beat, always, said Swoopes, who also won three Olympic gold medals.
“When that happened it just kind of gave us momentum and gave us confidence because they were a good team,” she said before the game. “At the time, they were the team to beat, so for us to be able to come out and have the type of performance we did to beat them and go on and win the national championship I think just really made that win in itself mean a lot more.”
Wearing throwback uniforms from the 1993 championship team, the Lady Raiders got 26 points off of Texas’ 24 turnovers on Sunday.
Texas Tech protected the ball well, committing a season-low five turnovers.
Texas (9-15, 2-11) outrebounded Texas Tech 39-28 and hit on 51 percent of their shots. The Lady Raiders made only 37 percent of their field goals.
Up 36-27 at halftime, the Lady Raiders scored just one point in the first 7:20 of the second half and allowed the Longhorns to take a 38-37 lead on a 3-pointer by Fussell with 13:12 remaining.
But Morris heated up and scored six points within about 90 seconds to pull ahead 46-40. Back-to-back field goals by Empress Davenport got the Longhorns within 52-47 but quickly Brown hit a bucket and Baker sank a 3 as the shot clock expired to put the Lady Raiders ahead for good, 57-47.
In the first half Texas went up 19-14 on a jumper by Brady Sanders at 8:53 of the first half. But the Lady Raiders used a 15-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Casey Morris and a deft bounce pass by her between two Longhorns to Chynna Brown on a fast break, to go up 29-19 with 4:33 remaining.
Karen Aston said the rivalry between the Longhorns and the Lady Raiders isn’t as well-known as when Texas and Texas Tech were perennial powerhouses. She enjoyed the atmosphere Sunday.
“It brought back a lot of memories,” she said. “It was a Texas Tech crowd today, and one I hope that our players enjoyed it.”
Curry said the rivalry is just as strong today but other teams in the Big 12 are improving too.
“I don’t think the rivalry’s come down at all,” she said. “I think you’ve got more parity in women’s basketball and I think that Texas Tech and Texas deserve a lot of credit for that, what Marsha Sharp has done for the game, and Jody Conradt, absolutely.”
During 24 seasons in Lubbock, Sharp took Tech to 16 straight NCAA appearances, reaching the Elite Eight four times and the Sweet 16 seven times. The Lady Raiders finished 1993 with a 31-3 record.
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