Texans clobber Cougars, earn first WAC weekend sweep
CHICAGO – Valentine's Day gave Tarleton women's basketball the gift of its first weekend sweep in Western Athletic Conference play, as the Texans cruised past Chicago State 61-41 on Sunday inside the Jones Convocation Center.
Tarleton delivered its most dominant performance against a Division I opponent one day after fending off the Cougars 64-56 in the Windy City. The Texans (6-12, 2-6 WAC) never trailed in the contest and led for more than 36 minutes. The team forced 23 Cougar turnovers – its most vs. a Division I foe this season – shot 17-31 (55 percent) inside the arc and connected at an 81 percent clip (21-26) from the foul line.
The Texans have now won three of their last five ballgames and moved into a tie for fifth in the conference standings in the win column.
Marissa Escamilla turned in a career-best 24 points along with a game-high seven rebounds to engineer the Texans at both ends of the floor. Escamilla, 5-9, has now scored in double figures in eight of Tarleton's nine games against WAC opposition and is averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game since conference play began. The Burnet, Texas native went 12-14 at the charity stripe and drew four CSU fouls in both halves.
Guards Iyana Dorsey and Kandyn Faurie joined Escamilla in double-digit scoring, as the duo tallied 16 and 11 points, respectively.
Faurie helped Tarleton quickly separate from the Cougars. The junior scored seven first quarter points – five of which came in the final 2:09 of the period – to fuel a 7-0 scoring run to close the frame and give Tarleton a 15-4 edge.
The Texans then held CSU without a field goal for more than seven minutes in the second quarter and used a 20-5 extended scoring run to build a 29-12 halftime lead. Tarleton forced 11 Cougar giveaways and limited CSU to 17 percent shooting from the field.
Tarleton immediately denied CSU's post players on the low block and dared the Cougars to consistently connect from long range. CSU went 7-9 from downtown on Saturday but entered shooting 21 percent behind the arc as a team. The Cougars were 3-10 on 3-point attempts and had just one made triple in the first half.
High ball screens and dump offs down low from Faurie and freshman guard Hailey Ibarra set Escamilla up with easy looks inside. She scored Tarleton's final seven points in the first half.
Ibarra, a preferred walk-on from Glen Rose, gave Tarleton five rebounds and three points in 16 minutes off the bench. Tarleton out-rebounded CSU 36-25 for the game.
The fast start was a welcome sign for Tarleton. Saturday proved to be a nip-and-tuck affair, as the Cougars trailed by just two points entering the fourth quarter and Tarleton did not assume a double-digit lead until the game's closing seconds.
CSU used eight second-chance points to begin the second half with a 13-5 scoring run and pull within nine points of the Texans at the 4:21 mark of the period. Tarleton, though, scored on four of its final five possessions to thwart any thoughts of a Cougar comeback.
Dorsey canned a 3-pointer from the top of the key and Escamilla followed up with a pair of free throws and catch-and-release finish on the low right block. A floater from Ibarra with 27 second left in the frame kept Tarleton in front 43-30 entering the game's final 10 minutes.
Eight free throws and equally as many quarter points by Escamilla in the fourth quarter iced the game for Tarleton, which has now made 15-or-more free throws in 11 games. Dorsey and fellow guard Kaitlyn Guillory were both perfect at the line.
Guillory's six rebounds were the second-most on the team and matched the senior's season high. Three players – Guillory, Faurie and Jayci Morton – had three assists apiece for the Texans.
Tarleton's next scheduled games are at New Mexico State on Feb. 26-27 but the team is working to schedule a home game within the next 13 days. The Texans were originally slated to host Dixie State inside Wisdom Gym on Feb. 19-20 but the Trailblazers canceled their women's basketball season on Jan. 5.