By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 15, 2014) — Morgan Pullins scored 24 points and collected 14 rebounds to lead St. Mary’s (2-0) to a 56-53 win over host Tarleton State (1-1) in the final women’s contest of the Whataburger Texan Tipoff Classic Saturday evening.
Pullins was 10-13 from the court, the only player for either team to hit better than 50 percent with eight or more shot attempts. Tarleton shot only 39.2 percent inside its own Wisdom Gym. St. Mary’s wasn’t much better at 45.1 percent.
The Lady Rattlers made the plays that mattered down the stretch. Kiara Etheridge laid one in to give St. Mary’s a 54-53 lead with 47 seconds left. At the other end, Pullins rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Raven McGrath with 11 ticks on the clock, was fouled immediately and hit two free throws for the final margin.
Tarleton never even got off a potential game-tying 3-point attempt, instead having the ball knocked away. Averie Mack grabbed it for the TexAnns, but her layup attempt was partially blocked by Etheridge, and Pullins grabbed her final rebound as time expired.
The biggest separation between the teams all night was 10 points, and that was early on with St. Mary’s on top 20-10. Tarleton closed the first half on a 12-5 push to trail 25-22 at the intermission. There were eight lead changes and eight ties.
The TexAnns led for just 4:43 the entire game, and never by more than two points. Turnovers were the biggest reason why, as 24 of them were converted into 21 St. Mary’s points.
Tarleton was led by Breana Fuller with 14 points. Ikpeaku Iwobi had 10 along with eight rebounds, while Morgan Ashmmore scored six and dealt six assists.
The TexAnns are home again next Saturday, Nov. 22, for a 5 p.m. date with NAIA Texas Wesleyan.