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Focus on Texas Tech star pays off

LaToya Davis kept scoreless for the final 12 minutes
Sunday, January 29, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:45 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

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Tigers center Christelle N’Garsanet looks for the basket against Texas Tech’s Darrice Griffin. On the other side of the ball, N’Garsanet’s presence in the middle was a key factor in shutting down Tech’s top scorer LaToya Davis in Saturday’s victory at Mizzou Arena. (ELISA PETERSON/ Missourian)

There’s a reason Texas Tech’s LaToya Davis is widely considered one of the best post players in the Big 12 Conference . Missouri saw firsthand why on Saturday.

There’s also a reason why the Tigers are proving they are one of the upper echelon teams in the conference. Texas Tech found that out on Saturday.

With a smothering defense on Davis, the Tigers defeated Texas Tech 65-51 at Mizzou Arena.

With a week between games for Missouri (15-4, 5-2), the focus for the Tigers was spent trying to figure out a way to slow Davis down. They did, sort of. Missouri’s defense allowed Davis to score 19 points. But none of those points were scored in the last 12 minutes of the game. Texas Tech (9-9, 4-3) could barely manage a clean entry pass into Davis in the second half.

Seemingly every time Davis touched the ball she was met by two and sometimes three defenders crowding her and challenging every shot she took.

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Missouri guard LaToya Bond was one of three Tigers to score in double figures Saturday at Mizzou Arena. She had 16 points and two assists. (ELISA PETERSEN/ Missourian)

“I’m so impressed with their balance and their athleticism,” Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. “They’re the biggest team we’ve played and most athletic in the post area.”

Most importantly for the Tigers, meeting Davis at every juncture near the basket was senior center Christelle N’Garsanet, who matched Davis’ 19 points.

“She’s a big force inside and I think if we could have kept her off the boards we could have had a chance to win,” Davis said.

Junior forward Carlynn Savant helped N’Garsanet out in guarding Davis and said the team needed N’Garsanet’s offense as much as her defense.

“Coming out you have so much respect for someone like (Davis),” Savant said. “We had to stop her and help out.”

N’Garsanet pulled down eight offensive rebounds. Sharp said by the time the game reached its final minutes, N’Garsanet had “just worn us down.”

It was a frustrating first half for N’Garsanet, though.

She’s always been known as an emotional player to her teammates. It’s nothing new to see N’Garsanet react out of frustration over a bad play. In the first half, her emotions got to her and Savant said she had to calm N’Garsanet down at halftime. N’Garsanet’s cool, collected play was a big factor in the Tigers holding down Davis in the second half.

“Christelle doesn’t play very well when she gets emotional and she got real emotional,” Missouri coach Cindy Stein said. “A lot of that is because she wants to win so badly and she wants to be huge in that win.”

EXTRA: This was Sharp’s first game back since the Jan. 15 game against Baylor. On her way to Norman, Okla., for a game against Oklahoma on Jan. 18, Sharp suddenly became ill and was hospitalized with flu-like symptoms. After undergoing further medical evaluations, an angiogram late Thursday night determined that there could be blockage in a single coronary artery. There was no evidence of blockage or heart damage.

“I’m sorry for our players and I told them that in the dressing room,” Sharp said. “There were a couple of scares there and I took care of them. I think I’m better now than I’ve been in a few weeks.”


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