The Tarleton offense had plenty of moments but with the game on the line it was the defensive efforts that stole the show and sealed an electrifying 86-81 victory for the TexAnns over Midwestern State at Wisdom Gym Saturday afternoon.
With Tarleton clinging to an 82-81 lead with just 15 seconds left in the game, Midwestern State attacked the basket for a layup that rimmed out and bounced around two sets of hands in the paint before McKinley Bostad pulled it in and was fouled with nine ticks on the clock.
The junior from Kennedale stepped to the free throw line and knocked down a pair to quickly ease the tension among the Tarleton faithful and extend the TexAnn lead to three.
Midwestern State put up a deep three-point shot with three seconds left but Mackenzie Hailey got a clean piece with the block that sailed into the waiting arms of McKinley Bostad, who again was fouled and knocked down two more free throws to send the TexAnns to their fifth straight win.
Prior to the last-minute heroics, Tarleton came out firing and riding a career effort by junior Katie Webster.
Webster and Hailey combined for 32 points in the opening half alone as Tarleton took a 46-39 into halftime. Webster put up 21 points, eight rebounds, and two steals in the opening half while Hailey accounted for 11 points and four rebounds in just seven minutes of action that was limited by foul trouble.
Over the third quarter, Tarleton maintained its lead and stretched it to as many as seven on three different occasions but Midwestern State finished the quarter on a 5-2 surge to cut the TexAnn lead to 68-64 heading into the fourth.
Midwestern State continued its run over the first four minutes of the fourth quarter by outscoring the TexAnns 9-3 over that span to take its first lead of the game but Bostad had a quick answer with a layup off a pass from Kylie Collins to tie things back up at 73-73.
Hailey followed suit by putting Tarleton back on top with an old-fashioned three-point play to lead 76-73 with 3:32 left in the game. Tarleton pushed its lead to five before Midwestern State cut it to one heading into the final 15 seconds.
Tarleton boasted a pair of double-double performers as Webster poured in a career-high 29 points and 13 rebounds, both the lead the team for the game, and Hailey also scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Bostad also cracked double figures with 17 points.
As a team, the TexAnns shot .345 from the floor and .333 from downtown to go along with a .935 shooting clip from the charity stripe. Tarleton was 43-46 at the free throw line led by Bostad (11-11), Webster (11-13), and Hailey (10-10).
Kylie Collins added nine points while Tiara Tatum (5), Nina Alvarez(2), Hannah Allen (2), and Baylee Peck (1) rounded out the Tarleton scoring.
The TexAnns will hit the road for its final road trip of the regular season next week, beginning with a Thursday night showdown against Eastern New Mexico in Portales at 6:30 p.m. CT.