Fourth quarter reversal puts Texans on wrong side of close finish
STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton defense was as strong as it's been through three quarters, but the script flipped in the final frame.
After the Texans held Western Illinois to just 29 points on 23.1 percent shooting through the first three quarters, the Leathernecks doubled their output with 29 points on 72.7 percent shooting in the fourth quarter to erase a 12-point deficit and win 58-54 at Wisdom Gym on Saturday.
It was a battle between two 4-1 teams, with Tarleton's loss snapping a four-game winning streak, dropping the team from Stephenville to 4-2 (0-0 WAC). The Leathernecks have now won five games in a row, improving to 5-1 (0-0 Summit) in the first ever meeting between these two programs.
The Texans started as well as you could hope for, running out to a 7-0 lead and not allowing a point by Western Illinois for more than the first four-and-a-half minutes. The Leathernecks managed just one made field goal and five points in the opening frame, shooting a 7.7% clip from the field. Tarleton led 15-5 after one.
To begin the second quarter, Marissa Escamilla made a layup to make it a 12-point Texan lead, before the Leathernecks finally got things going. Western Illinois scored eight unanswered and made it a 12-2 run overall to get within a pair. Tarleton answered back with a 9-0 run, led by a deep three-pointer from Iyana Dorsey and four points from Seynabou Thiam. Tarleton led 30-21 at halftime.
Both teams combined for 17 points in the back-and-forth third quarter, which ended in Tarleton's favor, leading 39-29 entering the final frame. Western Illinois scored the first eight points of the fourth to get back within two. After tying it a couple of times, the Leathernecks took their first lead of the game with 1:53 remaining, 49-48.
Jurnee President used every part of the rim to sink a three-pointer with 90 seconds left to put the Texans back in front, 51-49. The Leathernecks scored four straight to go up by two, and used seven Elizabeth Lutz free throw makes in the final 30 seconds to hold off the Texans.
Overall, the Texans outshot the Leathernecks 22-of-62 (.355) to 17-of-50 (.340), outrebounded them 40-38, and forced more turnovers, 15-13. The difference came at the line, as Western Illinois had 26 free throw attempts to Tarleton's 10.
Malaya Kendrick led the Texans with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting, adding six rebounds. Thiam had 10 points and eight rebounds. President finished with nine points. Tyler Jackson and Nya Mitchels led the bench with six points apiece.
Danni Nichols and Lutz each scored in double figures for Western Illinois. Nichols had a game-high 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting, to go with four rebounds and two steals. Lutz had 14 points on just 2-of-10 shooting, but went 9-of-10 from the charity stripe, adding six rebounds and two steals. Evan Zars totaled nine points and nine rebounds.
This was the first time in Tarleton's program history they hosted a non-conference NCAA Division I opponent.
The Texans get a week to regroup, not slated for another game until Saturday, Dec. 4. That contest will be against Arlington Baptist at Wisdom Gym at 2 p.m.