Photo and video by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
Lady Raider sophomore guard Jess Louro has come on strong over the last stretch of games. She’s provided a much needed boost for the Blue Raiders, both offensively and defensively.
Louro had difficulties finding her groove early in the season. There would be many games that she would struggle to score. Most recently, she went through a drought of three games in a row without recording any points.
She was even benched in the final game of the drought. Louro was once again held out of the starting lineup a second consecutive time against the UTEP on February 2.
However, in that game, she came off the bench and tallied 17 points for the Lady Raiders. Since then, she has averaged nearly 13 points a game.
MT has a solid post play in Alex Johnson, Rebecca Reuter, and Gabby Lyon who can carry the weight of the team. But, Louro has taken the pressure off of them the past couple of games.
“I definitely improved my defense so I can be on the floor and stay on the floor, ” Louro said. “As far as shooting, I was in a little funk a couple of weeks ago. I was in the gym just shooting, just getting my rhythm and now it’s really shown in the games.”
Louro has been a pest on defense, recording a steal in each of the last four contests. On top of her defensive effort, she’s really been in a zone from behind the arc. In those past four games, she’s hit a three in each. She nailed a season high six three-pointers in the most recent game against Charlotte.
“I’ve always been able to shoot and my confidence is growing because I’m in the gym working on it as well,” Louro said.
Louro does has partner in crime from behind the arc in Abbey Sissom. Both are mercenaries from downtown. When they are on the floor together, it presents a deadly matchup for opposing teams to guard two dead-eye shooters from long range.
“You got to guard them and when you have to guard them, then you’re gonna leave open Becca or AJ or Ty [Petty]. You got to guard everybody we got,” Head coach Rick Insell said. “Abbey’s got the green light and so does Jess and when they’re knocking down shots, we’re a pretty touch basketball team.”
The Lady Raiders will welcome the Western Kentucky Lady Hilltoppers Thursday night at 6:30 in Murphy Center. MT is currently atop the C-USA standings just ahead of WKU by half a game. The Hilltoppers are first in scoring offense, they have the second best defense in the conference, and also lead the C-USA in points margin. Louro is aware it will be a tall task despite being at home.
“We’re just trying to throw some different things at them, trying to keep within our offense, and get our momentum going from the beginning of the game,” Louro said.
The Lady Raiders have really come together and are continuing to develop their chemistry every day. As victors of their last five, MTSU is rolling at the right time heading towards the end of the season and going into the C-USA tournament. Louro realizes how critical and crucial it is for a team to peak at the right time.
“This is when the games really count, especially with seeding,” Louro said. “We want one of the top four slots so we don’t have to play four games in a row. Also, we need to gel and need to have good chemistry going into the tournament.”