STEPHENVILLE - Tarleton State (1-0) used a strong second-half performance to overcome a slow start and defeat Incarnate Word (1-2) 53-45 at Wisdom Gym Tuesday, improving to 5-0 in season openers under Head Coach Ronnie Hearne.

The final 20 minutes was all about scoring runs, and Tarleton had the last one, reeling off 10 straight points to lead by seven after trailing 38-37 at the 11:08 mark.

The Cardinals finally broke the Tarleton run with a free throw by Keisha Greenwood with 3:22 remaining, and the TexAnns led 45-39.

The scoreless steak for IWU covered 7:46.

"We were struggling to score points ourselves, but anytime you can get that many stops in a row it's huge," Hearne explained.

Tarleton outscored Incarnate Word 16-7 over the final 11 minutes.

The TexAnns began the second half with an 8-0 run to take the lead, but Incarnate Word regained the advantage on a jumper by Hayley Harvey that made it 36-35 with 11:32 remaining.

Harvey's shot was part of an 11-0 Cardinal run to gain a 38-35 edge.

Tarleton hit 11 of 22 second-half field goal attempts after shooting only 35-percent in the first 20 minutes.

“I think we executed our offensive sets much better in the second half,” Hearne explained. “And our defensive intensity was much better.”

Brittney Haley led the TexAnns with 15 points and five rebounds, while Krystal Cole posted 13 points.

The TexAnns started slowly and trailed by seven on two occasions in the first half before consecutive three-point shots by Haley, Kendal Reddell and D'Anna Dingler put Tarleton ahead 22-20.

The Cardinals regained the advantage at halftime on the strength of a pair of baskets by Brittany Hardy that made it 24-23.

The TexAnns return to the floor in Austin Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip-off against St. Edward's.

Brad Keith is the sports editor at the Empire-Tribune. He can be reached at (254) 965-3124, ext. 241, or by e-mail at brad.keith@empiretribune.com.