Thiam’s block party pushes Tarleton past Oral Roberts in frenzied finish
STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton's Seynabou Thiam was not to be tested all night. Oral Roberts didn't get the message in their game-tying attempt, attacking the 6-foot 6-inch center with 12 seconds remaining in a two-point affair, which Thiam promptly rejected and rebounded to seal a win for the Texans.
Tarleton needed every one of Thiam's career-high five blocks and a late three-pointer from sharpshooter Jenna Dick to beat the Golden Eagles at Wisdom Gym Monday night 59-55. The Texans improved to 6-3 with the win and 5-1 at home, with Oral Roberts falling to 4-6.
This was Tarleton's first home win against an NCAA Division I non-conference opponent in program history. The Texans sought and succeeded in their revenge after a tough loss last year in Tulsa. Tarleton is now 3-1 against Oral Roberts in series history.
The separation between the two teams in the fourth quarter was never larger than seven points, as both teams traded blows seemingly the entire frame. Down six with 3:57 left, Oral Roberts knocked off five straight points and two defensive stops to cut it to 52-51 with 1:23 remaining. On the Texans' next possession, Dick nailed her first three of the game to make it a two-possession game and put Wisdom Gym into a frenzy. Oral Roberts' Katie Scott sank a jumper 20 seconds later to get the Golden Eagles back within two.
With 21 seconds remaining, Keni Jo Lippe stole the ball from Jurnee President to give OBU a chance at tying, or even leading, the game. Thiam shut down that notion, stuffing Hannah Cooper at the rim and securing the rebound, showing full emotion after Tarleton called a quick timeout. Malaya Kendrick and President sank all four Tarleton free throw attempts down the wire to preserve the victory.
Kendrick had a game-high 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting, adding five rebounds and a block. President poured in 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting, to go with two steals. Iyana Dorsey joined the pair in double figures with 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting. Nya Mitchels led the bench with seven points in just seven minutes.
Thiam had the big performance for Tarleton, recording six points, 11 rebounds, and five blocks. She was already the WAC leader in blocks per game (2.3) and total blocks (18) entering Monday. She's now at 2.6 BPG and 23 total blocks on the year.
Oral Roberts had two players in double figures – Tirzah Moore with 13 points, five rebounds and three assists, and Katie Scott with 11 rebounds (5-10 FG), six rebounds, three assists plus two steals. The Golden Eagles had 13 steals, with Cooper leading that charge with four, plus seven rebounds.
Tarleton's No. 1 ranked defense in the WAC was back at it again, forcing ORU to 55 points – their tied-second lowest output this season – and 16-of-55 (.291) shooting, their second lowest clip of the year. The Texans made 22-of-46 (.478) shots, outscoring the Golden Eagles in the paint 32-18.
After falling behind 7-2 early, the Texans used an 11-2 run to take a four-point lead in the first quarter, a frame that ended 15-14, advantage purple and white. Tarleton allowed just eight points in the second quarter, building an 11-point lead shortly before halftime, which was the largest lead of the game. Oral Roberts cut it to eight, 30-22, at the break.
The Golden Eagles turned on their defensive effort in the third quarter, allowing just 10 points from Tarleton and getting within three entering the fourth, 40-37. Tarleton won the final frame 19-18, both teams' highest scoring quarters.
Next up for the Texans is a Saturday matchup at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, Louisiana, at 1 p.m. Tarleton has never faced the Demons, who are 5-3 this season coming off a 78-71 overtime victory over Mississippi Valley State.