Goin' Dancing

Lady Raiders are back in the NCAA Tournament after missing it last season and are ready to make some noise.

While students were on spring break during the past week, the Lady Raiders were not among the group taking part in a break from the daily grind spending their break getting ready for the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

 

"While everybody was at the beach celebrating, we were here practicing everyday," senior Monique Smalls said. "Our coaches wanted to bring up our competitiveness and just got to make basketball fun. Trying to make it fun so we started doing five-on-five, we did a lot of competitions. We even had Lady Raider Olympics where we got to battle against each other."

 

On Monday, with all the students back in school, the Lady Raiders gathered to figure out how their journey in the NCAA Tournament would begin.

 

Not really where they would be playing, that question already answered with Lubbock hosting first and second round games in this years tourney, but rather whom they would be facing.

 

The Lady Raiders waited anxiously until they came onto the bracket as a No.7 seed.

 

"Really special," senior Casey Morris said about seeing their name come on the screen. "I think, like I said, the seniors and just the team that we have we're so dedicated to basketball and we love it and it shows on the court everyday.

"So it's just good to see our name and show we've earned something."

 

It was only moments later that Tech found out whom they would be playing and it ended up being No. 10 seed South Florida.

 

"I was ready for anybody," Smalls said. "I don't know much about South Florida, I know in the next couple of days our coaches will have something prepared for us. I'm looking forward to playing somebody new that we haven't played before."

 

Tech and South Florida will be meeting for only the third time in program history with the last meeting between the two squads coming in 2008 at the Paradise Jam tournament in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

 

Along with South Florida, No. 15 seed Fresno State and No. 2 seed California will be making the trip to Lubbock for the first and second round play.

 

California and Fresno State will play in the first game on Saturday inside the United Spirit Arena with first tip set for 3 p.m., while Tech and USF will meet at 5:30 p.m.

 

The winners of both games will have practice on Sunday before returning to the court on Monday to play at 8:30 p.m. for a shot at a Sweet 16 berth in Spokane, Washington the next week.

 

 

 

The Lady Raiders are in the programs 20th NCAA Tournament and for this group of seniors it is the second time to make it to the big dance in their time here - Tech making it into the tournament in 2011 before being knocked out by St. John's in the first round.

 

In 2012, the Lady Raiders missed the NCAA Tournament but had returning to the big dance as one of the goals for this season and have accomplished that which is what Tech head coach Kristy Curry said is the goal of everyone that coaches or plays the game is to make it into the tourney.

 

"It's special," she said. "This is number 20 for the program in the year of the 20-year anniversary of the National Championship team, so there's a tremendous amount of pride that goes into it. I think its number nine for me (as a head coach) and quite a few more if you add those assistant years in there. So it's something that you wake up and want to be about every day and we're just proud to have this program back.

"I'm happy for our seniors, our entire team, our staff, everybody."

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