It's safe to say Brianna Bledsoe isn't quite ready for her basketball career to reach it's end.
The senior guard poured in 18 points and dealt five assists to lead Tarleton State (22-8) to a 70-55 victory over Texas A&M-International (19-9) in the opening round of the South Central Regional and NCAA Division II Championship at First united Bank Center in Canyon Friday.
It's Tarleton's second national tournament victory since joining the NCAA in 1994 and sends the TexAnns into a regional semifinal game against second-seeded Colorado Mesa at 5 p.m. Saturday. Mesa eliminated Lone Star Conference member and seventh-seeded Midwestern State 60-49 in Friday's second quarterfinal.
The third-seeded TexAnns gained the breathing room they needed with a 15-4 run to begin the second half.
Meagan O'Dell scored Tarleton's first six points of the second half with a pair of 3-pointers. She went 3-4 from the arc and scored 13 for the TexAnns.
Shanae Lowrance followed with four straight points on her way to nine points and nine rebounds for the day, then Kathy Thomas hit a 3-pointer.
Kiara Wright concluded the run with a basket in the paint. After playing just eight minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, Wright still finished with 10 points and 10 boards, her 58th career double-double. She's two shy of the school record.
Sixth-seeded TAMIU got as close as eight on two occasions down the stretch, the last coming at 63-55 with 45 seconds remaining. But the TexAnns scored the final seven points on a layup by Bledsoe, a free throw from Lowrance and two foul shots each from Wright and Thomas.
Thomas also scored nine for the TexAnns, who have won three of their last four. They improved to 2-4 all-time in the NCAA Championship, all under 11th-year head coach Ronnie Hearne. They are in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
Tarleton shot 44.6 percent from the floor including 53.9 percent after halftime, when they scored 42 points. The TexAnns limited TAMIU to just 30.6 percent shooting, 28.1 percent after the break.
The first half was much tighter, with a 9-2 run helping the TexAnns to a 28-27 lead at intermission. Bledsoe scored the first four points of the run, and O'Dell had the next five.
Tina Dang scored 20 to lead TAMIU. Malik Jackson added 15 and Jessica Prieto 10.
Tarleton's only other NCAA Championship victory came in 2011. The TexAnns defeated Southeastern Oklahoma 86-75 before falling to Northwest Missouri State in the second round.