Tarleton falls in season opener to Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas – The 2021-22 Tarleton women's basketball season got underway on Wednesday against one of the top NCAA Division I opponents in the nation.
Arkansas, who was ranked just outside of the top-25 in the preseason Associated Press poll, clamped down defensively on the Texans all night, forcing tough shots and long possessions. The Razorbacks used their defensive effort to cruise in this one 85-33.
The Texans (0-1, 0-0 WAC) traveled to Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to face an SEC opponent for the second time in program history. It was also the second time the Texans have ever played a Power Five conference school, covering both firsts against Florida last year.
The Razorbacks (1-0, 0-0 SEC) showed like they had something to prove following their disappointing ouster from the 2021 NCAA Tournament, where they fell in the first round as a No. 4 seed. Arkansas forced an 11-of-49 (.224) clip from the field for the Texans, including 2-of-15 (.133) from beyond the arc. The Razorbacks made 29-of-62 (.468) from the field themselves, and got 14 more trips to the free throw line than Tarleton. The Texans lost the turnover battle 23-11, where the Hogs got 31 of their points, 23 on fast break.
The Texans debuted nicely off the jump, forcing a 1-of-8 clip from Arkansas in the first four-plus minutes. Tarleton was ahead 4-3 to start, with the first basket of the 2021-22 season belonging to new center Seynabou Thiam, on a sweet turnaround hook shot. Redshirt senior Malaya Kendrick made her Tarleton debut in style with a driving scoop shot for her first bucket to make it 4-3. In the first quarter alone, she recorded four points and seven rebounds. The Razorbacks flipped the script midway through the first, however, charging ahead on a 13-0 run to go up 17-4, finishing the frame up 20-8.
In the second quarter, newcomer Tyler Jackson, a sophomore, made the Texans' first three-pointer of the season to make it 26-11. The remainder of the frame was much like the first with nearly an identical score, as Arkansas took it 21-8 to lead at the break 41-16.
The third quarter was all red, with Arkansas shooting 10-of-18 from the field, not allowing a single bucket on the other end, as Tarleton shot 0-for-12. The difference on the scoreboard in the frame was 27-5. With the game out of reach in the fourth, it allowed all 15 players to get some game action for the purple and white, a program that has nine newcomers and five players who saw game action for Tarleton last season.
Jackson was the leading scorer for Tarleton with eight points. Kendrick secured 10 rebounds with her six points, making her the first Texan with double-digit rebounds in the season-opener since 2016-17 (Mackenzie Hailey). Thiam finished with six points on 3-of-5 shooting and four blocks.
Arkansas' Makayla Daniels led all scorers with 15 points and a tied-team-high six rebounds, adding two steals. Five Razorbacks scored in double figures, including Erynn Barnum, who had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals. Samara Spencer was the most efficient shooter on the day, finishing 5-of-6 from the floor for 12 points, adding three rebounds.
The Texans now turn their attention to their home opener, with an opponent on the other side of a similar score in Stephenville last season. Tarleton plays Champion Christian on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Wisdom Gym. Last season, the Texans beat the Tigers 95-27, making 16 three-pointers in the process, a program record. That 68-point win is the largest margin of victory in Tarleton history.