EDMOND, Okla. — Tarleton State head coach Ronnie Hearne received a great birthday present Thursday, as his TexAnns beat Central Oklahoma on the road, 68-54.
The TexAnns held on to a double-digit lead for much of the second half, topping the Bronchos, who Hearne called “a quality team.”
“They played so hard,” Hearne said of Tarleton’s opponents. “I’m just real proud of our team.”
The win was No. 60 for Hearne as head coach of the TexAnns.
Seniors Katie Crawford and Sassy Pyburn led the way with 19 points apiece, and D’Anna Dingler had a double-double, chipping in 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
The TexAnns limited UCO to 34.6 percent from the field while the TexAnns shot 45.5 percent. Though it was a sloppy game with both teams having more than 20 turnovers, the TexAnns used 17 second-chance points to help earn the win. Tarleton held the home team almost 20 points below their season average.
The TexAnns out-rebounded their opponents 36-31. Tarleton never trailed in the game, and led by as many as 19 points.
Dingler got the scoring going with a jumper in the paint a minute into the game, and Crawford had a layup to put the TexAnns up 4-0. Lizzie Brenner had UCO’s first bucket prior to Mallory Markus tying the game at four with 17:06 on the clock.
Brenner, who fouled out with about four minutes remaining, was UCO’s leading scorer, with 19 points.
The TexAnns then went on a 16-5 run, with three-pointers from Crawford and Pyburn, and layups from Crawford and Dingler.
The Bronchos outscored the TexAnns 6-2 in the final three minutes of the first half to cut the Tarleton lead to 35-22. Tara Lisle scored the only bucket for the visitors during the UCO run.
Pyburn opened the second half with a trey for the TexAnns before she had an old-fashioned three-point play at the 18:33-mark to stretch the Tarleton lead to 19, 41-22.
Brenner then had two free throws before Cristina Yarbrough had a steal and layup at 18:08 to cut the score to 41-26. Pyburn then had a layup after a pass from Dingler to increase the TexAnn lead to 17.
Hester had a three for the Bronchos to start a 9-2 UCO run that cut the lead to 10 (45-35) with 15:27 remaining in the contest. Brittnie Haley then had a bucket for the TexAnns before Brenner added two free throws for the home team. JoAnne Jones then had a jumper on the return trip down the floor, but Cassidy Pillow had a steal and a layup to cut the advantage back to 10 (49-39).
A Jennifer Bullis three-pointer cut the Tarleton lead to nine (51-42), but the TexAnns soon pushed the lead back to double-digits and the Bronchos could not make any runs at the Tarleton lead.
The TexAnns will return to action Saturday at Northeastern State. Tip off in Tahlequah, Okla. is set for 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast locally on 98.5 FM.