Texans test conference-leading Lancers in hard-fought WAC debut
STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton threw an upset scare into an undefeated California Baptist team in its Western Athletic Conference debut before ultimately falling 70-60 on Friday in Wisdom Gym.
The Texans led nine different times in the contest and spent more than 10 minutes ahead on the scoreboard against a Lancers squad that entered as one of only 15 undefeated teams at the Division I level. Tarleton held CBU (11-0) below its averages in points per game (77.6) and assists per game (21.8). The Lancers 40% clip from the field was also the team's second-lowest shooting percentage of the season.
The teams meet again at 3 p.m. on Saturday inside Wisdom Gym.
It was Tarleton's first game in 25 days and first home game since a 95-27 win over Champion Christian on Dec. 12. The Texans' WAC debut was pushed back after its games at Grand Canyon on Jan. 8-9 were postponed due to COVID-19 developments within the program.
Tarleton (3-7) came out of the gate strong at both ends of the floor to begin the game.
The Texans, who lead the WAC in free throw percentage (73.8), connected on 11-12 attempts from the charity stripe to build an 18-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The team drew eight Lancer fouls and doubled off CBU's posts to help force five turnovers.
Kandyn Faurie scored seven of her season-high 10 points in the frame to pace the Texan offense. The Liberty Hill native made her first start of the season and third of her career as Tarleton dressed only 11 players and were without primary ballhandler Alexa Hoy.
Faurie and freshman Iyana Dorsey acted as the primary ballhandlers for Tarleton throughout the evening. Dorsey finished with a team-high 17 points and reinforced her status as the WAC's top foul shooter, hitting 9-10 shots from the free throw line. It was Dorsey's eighth double-digit scoring game of the season and fourth time she scored in double figures by halftime. Dorsey leads the WAC in free throw percentage (87.5).
The first half saw seven lead changes with neither team leading by more than five points.
CBU ripped off a 9-0 scoring run midway through the second quarter after Tarleton assumed its largest lead of the game at 20-15. Dorsey, though, had an answer for the Lancers, rattling off seven straight points from the 3:55-1:55 mark of the period to give the Texans a 34-31 edge. A 3-point shot at the buzzer gave the Lancers a 35-34 edge at halftime.
The Texans shot 15-16 (94 percent) at the foul line through the game's first 20 minutes but struggled to connect inside the arc. Tarleton shot just 8-27 (29.6 percent) from the field and had trouble finding an offensive rhythm. The team's 27.6 shooting percentage was its second-lowest figure of the season.
A finish inside by Emily Cunningham (4 points, 2 rebounds) off a feed from Faurie and a 3-pointer from fellow forward Marissa Escamilla gave the Texans a 39-35 edge to open the second half. It proved to be Tarleton's final lead of the game, however.
California Baptist closed the frame on a 17-3 scoring run and as the Texans' offense dried up. Cunningham's bucket was Tarleton's only field goal inside the perimeter in the third quarter.
The two teams played to an 18-18 scoring tie in the game's final 10 minutes. Tarleton got within seven points at 62-55 with 2:06 remaining but the Lancers countered with an 8-4 scoring spurt over the ensuing 1:04 to lock up the victory.
Escamilla turned in arguably her best performance of Tarleton's inaugural Division I season. The 5-9 junior was the first off the bench for Wilson and gave the Texans 16 points to go along with a career-high 12 rebounds.
Dorsey, Escamilla, Faurie and Callie Boyles (10 points) accounted for 53 of Tarleton's 60 points (88.3 percent) for the evening.
Boyles also chipped in five rebounds and two blocks at the defensive end. The sophomore continues to lead the WAC in blocks per game (2.1) and now has 21 rejections this season.
Tarleton's 18 turnovers were its most since giving the ball away 21 times in its season-opener at North Texas on Nov. 25. The Texans entered the contest averaging a league-low 14.1 turnovers per game.
The loss snapes a three-game home winning streak for the Texans, who have now dropped four consecutive ballgames for the first time in the Misty Wilson era.