Louisiana Tech wins home opener

With Pat Summitt Looking On, Louisiana Tech Wins (0:51)

Tyler Summitt talks about how important it was to him to have his mother, Pat Summitt, in the stands to see him coach his first home game for Louisiana Tech. (0:51)

RUSTON, La. -- On Dec. 7, 1974, Pat Summitt coached her first game for the University of Tennessee. Forty years later to the date, her son, Tyler, coached his first home game for Louisiana Tech.

"Gives you chills almost," Tyler Summitt said when told of the coincidence before the Lady Techsters' game Sunday.

The original Coach Summitt lost her first game at Tennessee -- something she was quick to remind Tyler about after he and Louisiana Tech won their season opener earlier this season.

"[It's] probably the only thing I'll ever beat her at when it comes to coaching," Tyler joked.

While Pat Summitt amassed 1,098 wins as head coach at Tennessee -- the most in men's or women's college basketball history -- her son was looking for his team's third win of the season. The Lady Techsters took a 2-3 record into their home opener Sunday against Loyola New Orleans.

Pat Summitt was among the 2,107 fans watching the game with Tyler's wife, AnDe, and other family and friends at Thomas Assembly Center.

One close friend had a seat next to Tyler on the Louisiana Tech bench.

Summitt's former associate head coach, Mickie DeMoss, returned to her alma mater to coach alongside Tyler. Twenty-four years earlier, she had a very different responsibility -- getting Pat Summitt to Knoxville via chartered plane so she could deliver Tyler back home in Knoxville after her water broke on a recruiting trip.

"That's what makes life so fascinating," DeMoss said Saturday at practice. "Now that I look at it in the present moment, it all kind of unfolded the way it was supposed to. I really love working with Tyler and am committed to helping him get this program rolling."

It's a program that had three national championship teams in the 1980s but has fallen on leaner times in recent years. By bringing in Tyler, the expectation is for the Lady Techsters to return to prominence in women's basketball.

"I grew up coming to Ruston and circling Louisiana Tech on the schedule when I was with my mom at Tennessee," Tyler said. "I just had a lot of respect for the tradition here and what women's basketball means to Ruston. ... To be a part of bringing back a championship program, that's something special."

The Lady Techsters delivered a win for their first-year head coach Sunday by defeating Loyola New Orleans 75-61, led by senior Whitney Frazier's 21 points and seven rebounds.

"I was very proud of our team for our first home win," Tyler said. "We had a lot of family in the stands [and] a lot of friends in the stands."

One fan was personally invited by Tyler: NBA Hall of Fame player and Louisiana Tech graduate Karl Malone.

Before the game, Malone spoke with Tyler and his mother. He then watched La. Tech win on the court that bears his name.

Former La. Tech coach Leon Barmore, who coached the Lady Techsters to the 1988 NCAA title and is a Naismith Hall of Famer, also attended Sunday's game.

But the real star in the stands was Pat Summitt herself, now a bona fide Louisiana Tech fan, despite once losing nine consecutive games to the Lady Techsters from 1980-87 (she later was on the winning end of a similar streak from 2000-2008).

Her son put it best: "Who would have ever thought Pat Summitt would enjoy watching the Lady Techsters?"