ALLEN - There would be no slow start this time, and no chance for another upset by Texas A&M-Commerce.
Kiara Wright made sure of that with 10 points over the first three and a half minutes, and her teammates quickly joined in the fun as Tarleton State turned a 12-0 advantage into a dominating 36-10 lead with six minutes left in the first half.
Less than 24 hours after receiving her second straight Lone Star Conference Player of the Year honor, Wright poured in 18 points and collected 13 rebounds as the TexAnns thumped A&M-Commerce 84-55 in the opening game of the LSC Championship at Allen Event Center Wednesday afternoon.
"I'm going to try and remember that first half for as long as I can. I just tried to sit back and enjoy it," said Tarleton State head coach Ronnie Hearne. "Offensively and defensively, I have to give our players a lot of credit. They were prepared mentally to come to this tournament and show what kind of team we have, and things couldn't have gone much better in the first half."
Second-seeded Tarleton (20-7) scored the opening 12 points of the game - 10 of them by Wright - and never looked back. Seventh-seeded A&M-Commerce (7-20), which started which jumped out to a 9-2 lead en route to a 74-69 upset of the TexAnns just four days prior, never recovered.
"After losing Saturday, we knew we had to come out hard, more focused and into it at the start," said Tarleton senior guard Brianna Bledsoe. "We definitely focused a lot on that."
In fact, the Lady Lions never got on track at all, shooting just 28.6 percent in the opening half and 33.3 percent for the game. They were 0-7 from outside the 3-point arc.
Tarleton, conversely, hit 58.2 percent percent from the floor including 63.3 percent before the intermission, when it was 50-21.
Brianna Bledsoe had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the third double-double of both her senior season and career. The Stephenville product also dealt four assists and was a perfect 8-8 from the foul stripe, where Tarleton shot 78.3 percent.
Shanae Lowrance had 13 points for the TexAnns. Wright and Lowrance combined to go 14-19 from the field. Kathy Thomas scored 12, and true freshman Ikpeaku Iwobi netted a season-best 11 including seven before the break.
Leading A&M-Commerce was Breanna Harris with 14 points and 10 boards, but she was just 5-16 from the floor.
Tarleton improved to 5-1 in LSC Championship games played at the Allen Event Center. The TexAnns won three straight to win the championship in 2012, the first season the tournament was played at the AEC. They won their first-round game last year before falling in the semifinals.
"(Tuesday) when we first got here (Bledsoe) and I were talking about that. We're just so happy to be here again because we have so many good memories from here, especially from our sophomore year. We want to repeat what we did then and go out with a bang."
Tarleton improved to 7-10 all time in the LSC Championship, including 4-8 in opening round games. The TexAnns face third-seeded Texas Woman's or sixth-seeded Texas A&M-Kingsville in the semifinal round, set to tip off at noon on Friday.