However Charlotte, the top seed from the East, had more in its tank. The Lady Techsters, the top seed from the West, saw their lead slip away and the 49ers rallied to catch and surpass them on their way to a 68-63 win in Frisco, Texas.
Louisiana Tech (21-10) lost 59-56 to Charlotte (22-9) on Feb. 10 and the second meeting was just as crushing. The Lady Techsters hoped to clinch their first conference championship since 2010 and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2011.
Instead, a blown lead led to Charlotte celebrating its third NCAA Tournament berth in school history.
Too much Jett-Wilson
Charlotte’s Octavia Jett-Wilson had just five points in the first half but the C-USA Player of the Year was trouble for La Tech after halftime. She outscored Louisiana Tech 11-10 by herself in the third quarter and gave Charlotte its first lead at 38-36 on a pull-jumper.
Jett-Wilson finished with 31 points. She was 9-for-9 on free throws.
It was a drastic turnaround where the Lady Techsters held Charlotte to just six field goals and appeared in command.
Early defense doesn’t hold
Louisiana Tech took charge early forcing Charlotte to miss its first 12 shots. The Lady Techsters’ defense carried them early as they held Charlotte to 21.4% shooting in the first half.
In the second half, Charlotte shot 68.2%. The Lady Techsters tried to make a push in the fourth quarter but Charlotte had answers for each rally. If it wasn’t Jett-Wilson, it was Jade McMillian knocking down shots for the 49ers and Louisiana Tech couldn’t counter besides Keiunna Walker
McMillian had 15 of her 18 points at halftime. Louisiana Tech also allowed 13 offensive rebounds.
Walker carries the load
Just as she did in Friday’s semifinal, it was Walker trying to will the Lady Techsters with her scoring. The junior finished with 22 points, her fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points.
Walker had 11 points in the fourth quarter. Anna Larr Roberson added 15 points but was held to five in the second half with Charlotte swarming the paint.
Louisiana Tech had its first 20-win season since 2010-11 but now will have to wait and see if it is invited to the NIT on Sunday.