4:00 PM ET, February 26, 2006
AUSTIN (AP) -- Marsha Sharp got a hug and bouquet of red roses from her longtime rival. Then she got a key win to help send her out in style in her final season.Two days after her surprise announcement that she will retire from coaching at the end of her 24th season, Sharp guided her Texas Tech Lady Raiders to a 56-48 win over Texas, an important win in Tech's push for an NCAA tournament bid.Before the game, Sharp got a bouquet of red roses and a hug from Texas coach Jody Conradt. She also got a round of applause from Texas fans in respect of the coach who built a national power in West Texas and helped shape one of the fiercest regional rivalries in women's basketball."I can't tell you how much I appreciated their fans' response today," Sharp said. "We've had a lot of battles. It was a great day for me and one I'll never forget."Sharp, who has 571 career wins, is 22-39 against Conradt, who ranks second among NCAA coaches with 882 victories.Sharp has led the Lady Raiders to 16 straight NCAA appearances, reaching the Elite Eight four times and the round of 16 another seven. Tech won the national title in 1993."Marsha has done it with class and style," Conradt said. "It's hard to see someone leave who dates back to a time when none of us really knew the potential of our sport."LaToya Davis scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Erin Myrick added 10 points and 10 boards for the Lady Raiders (14-12, 9-6 Big 12).Tech ends the regular season at home Wednesday night against No. 9 Oklahoma. The Sooners have already wrapped up the Big 12 regular season title."We knew we had to win today," said Tech senior guard Erin Grant, who got her first win at Texas after winning four state championships on the Longhorns' court with Mansfield High School. "Our hopes are to get to the Big 12 tournament and win it all."The loss was a huge blow to the Longhorns' hopes of an NCAA at-large bid.Texas (13-13, 7-8) has struggled all season with a freshman heavy lineup and is in danger of its first losing season since 1998, the last year the Longhorns missed the tournament.Tiffany Jackson led Texas with 17 points. The Longhorns shot just 33 percent from the floor, hitting just one 3-pointer in one of their worst offensive games of the season.Texas cut a 10-point deficit to 39-36 early in the second when Erika Arriaran hit consecutive buckets before a 9-0 Tech run quickly rebuilt the lead.Brooke Baughman hit a 3-pointer from the right wing and Davis hit a tough shot in the lane over three defenders. Grant hit a short jumper on an assist from Davis, who then followed with a layup on a fast break to push the Lady Raiders' lead back to 48-36 with 12:49 to play.The Longhorns' last best push came when Jackson hit a jumper in the lane to make it 52-42. Alesha Robertson scored six in a row for Tech to quickly push the lead back up to 58-44 with four minutes left.Tech had a huge advantage from the free throw line, hitting 16 of 24. Texas was 5 of 8. Things got so bad for Texas that the Longhorns were hit with a technical foul for having six players on the court."Every time we would start to do something, we'd have something go bad. Miss a layup, make a turnover," Conradt said. "Those kinds of things are very deflating."
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