By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 8, 2017) —Where Tarleton State will finish in the Lone Star Conference women’s standings is anyone’s guess, as the TexAnns are alone in fifth just a game out of a third-place tie between teams they split with and must play again.
Confused? That’s just the way of the Lone Star Conference in both the men’s and the women’s races this year, with the women’s becoming more jumbled of late than the men’s.
The TexAnns (10-10, 9-5) will be looking to earn a winning record for the season and potentially move up in the standings Thursday when they host Texas A&M-Kingsville (10-10, 5-9) on senior day for Ikpeaku Iwobi, Travanti Downes and Bailey Wipff at Wisdom Gym. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
The TexAnns have six games remaining, half of them against teams in second or the tie for third, while A&M-Kingsville is trying to hold on to its spot in the top eight of the conference for a berth in the LSC Championship.
That means there is a lot on the line for both teams Thursday. And after it took overtime to run their win streak to 14 against the Javelinas on January 7, the TexAnns should be wary – respectful, at least – of this matchup.
A&M-Kingsville is fresh off a 69-54 win over Cameron, which split with the TexAnns this season. That broke a three-game losing streak and left the Javelinas with a two-game lead over ninth-place UT-Permian Basin and Midwestern State. A&M-Kingsville is just game behind Cameron now, giving the Javs hope for moving up to seventh and avoiding the regular season champ in the opening round of the LSC Championship.
Tarleton won 84-70 and it wasn’t nearly that close against Western New Mexico last Saturday. Most the starters were done after three quarters, including sophomore forward Mackenzie Hailey, who registered her 12th double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds. Tarleton lost in double-overtime to LSC leader Eastern New Mexico two days prior to that win, else the TexAnns would be in a three-way tie for third in the LSC.
The margin between teams is that narrow in the LSC, and it was that narrow when Hailey hit a 3-pointer as time expired to force overtime in these teams’ prior meeting in Kingsville. The TexAnns went on to erase a four-point deficit in overtime and ultimately scored the final six points of the game. Hailey brought the TexAnns within one with a bucket in the paint before freshman point guard Kylie Collins buried a 3 to take the lead for good. Hailey then closed the scoring with a free throw, finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Ikpeaku Iwobi added 10 points and seven boards.
Hailey averages 15.5 points and 9.3 rebounds to lead Tarleton this season. Wipff averages 13.4 points while Iwobi collects 11.4 points and 7.2 boards.
The Javs were led in the first meeting Kaylin Roher with 17 points, Tee Moore with 14 and Meesha Wade with 10. All three of them added four assists. Lily Hospers collected 15 rebounds and Kaylee Kana added 10 for A&M-Kingsville, as the Javs out-boarded the TexAnns, 53-43.
For the year, Roher averages 11.8 points Wade 9.4 and Moore 8.3.
Tarleton last lost to A&M-Kingsville on January 30, 2010, and that was 62-61 in Kingsville. The last Javelina victory over the TexAnns in Stephenville was 82-78 on January 14, 2009. A&M-Kingsville dominated Tarleton from 1981 through 2003, but the TexAnns now lead the series, 25-18.