ALLEN - West Texas A&M finished the game on a 15-4 run and was a perfect 10-10 from the foul stripe in the final four minutes, knocking off Tarleton State 76-67 in the final of the Lone Star Conference Championship Saturday at Allen Event Center.
Tarleton over the same stretch was 1-6 from the stripe including four straight misses by two-time LSC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year Kiara Wright.
Devin Griffin made six of the late free throws for the Lady Buffs, who won their fourth tournament championship in seven years and 10th of all time. Griffin made the all-tournament team after scoring 15 points in the second half and 21 to go with 10 rebounds for the game.
WTAMU was 31-39 from the foul stripe and Tarleton just 12-26 including 4-13 by Wright.
Casey Land hit the final four free throws to ice the game over the last 40 seconds. She scored 20 and also made the all-tournament team that was headlined by MVP Chontiquah White, also of WTAMU.
The Lady Buffs captured the tournament title for the fourth time in seven years and also won the regular season championship. It's their 10th LSC title overall.
Tarleton, which reached the championship for the second time in three years after winning their only title in the event in 2012, was led by Wright with 14 points and 10 rebounds. True freshman Ikpeaku Iwobi scored 10 and collected six boards off the bench.
Senior guard Brianna Bledsoe was Tarleton's only all-tournament selection despite scoring just four points in the final. She did have four assists, and recorded doublep-doubles in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.
Tarleton led by as many as four points in the second half but couldn't pull away. Karli Moore hit a pair of free throws to make it 49-45 with 12:43 left but four straight points by White evened things up with 10:37 still to go.
A put back by Iwobi made it 52-51 Tarleton, and Raven McGrath followed with a layup for a three-point edge.
But the Lady Buffs scored the next six, four of them coming from where else, the free throw line. Jordan Vessells made two, then Land hit a pair and WT.
Tarleton regained the lead on two jumpers by Travanti Downes, a true freshman, off the bench. The second made it 58-57 with 5:22 left. It was 62-59 moments later after a layup by Iwobi.
Two free throws and a bucket in the paint by Devin Griffin gave WTAMU a 65-63 lead, as the Lady Buffs began their late surge.
West Texas dominated the early stages of the game, racing out to a 22-8 lead before Tarleton fought right back. A 10-1 run cut it to 23-18, and the third 3-pointer of the half by sophomore guard Meagan O'Dell pulled the TexAnns even at 27-27.
It was deadlocked again at 29-29 before Land stole the ball and raced away, hitting a fast break layup through a foul with 11.1 seconds on the clock. Tarleton answered with Shanae Lowrance tipping in a missed 3-pointer just before the buzzer, making it 32-31 Lady Buffs at intermission.
WTAMU was 8-12 shooting when holding its 14-point lead before going 3-12 the rest of the half.
Tarleton's 10-0 surge to cut into the WT lead was fueled by the deep shooting of O'Dell and McGrath, who knocked down a pair of triples off the bench. They were Tarleton's leading scorers at the break with nine and six, respectively.
The Lady Buffs out-rebounded Tarleton 23-13 before the break, burt the TexAnns maximized the Lady Buffs' five turnovers by turning them into 12 points.
WTAMU will host the South Central Region Championship in Canyon after entering the tournament ranked first in the region. Games are set for next Friday, Saturday and Monday.
Tarleton is a lock to make the regional when selections are announced by the NCAA at 9 tonight. The TexAnns were ranked third in the region entering the tournament.