By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 9, 2017) — Bailey Wipff poured in a career-high 24 points and Mackenzie Hailey added 21 to lead Tarleton State (11-10, 10-5) to a 67-53 win over Texas A&M-Kingsville Thursday at Wisdom Gym.
The TexAnns, who entered the game alone in fourth in the Lone Star Conference, saw a 14-point lead trimmed to eight three times and ultimately to seven, 54-47, with 2:50 still to play.
But as she has done so many times during her sophomore season, Hailey took over right on time. She banked in a bucket in the bank to push the lead back to nine, then grabbed a defensive rebound, the seventh of her eight.
Tiara Tatum made one of two free throws, and chased down her own rebound after missing the second, allowing Tarleton to call timeout with 1:59 remaining leading 57-47. The TexAnns ran off just three more seconds before Baylee Peck was fouled and also split a pair for an 11-point margin.
A&M-Kingsville could not get within single digits over the final 1:50, losing for the fourth time in five games. The Javelinas are eighth in the LSC and saw their lead over ninth trimmed to just one game.
Tarleton went 7-10 from the foul stripe to pull away over the final 1:45 and A&M-Kingsville finally stopped fouling with the TexAnns matching their largest lead of 14 again.
Wipff scored 17 of the first 25 Tarleton points, starting 6-8 from the floor including 3-5 from 3.
“My teammates (are what worked for me), they kept working hard and finding me,” said Wipff. “I couldn’t do it without them.”
When Wipff sat down for a rest late in the second quarter, Hailey took over, also reaching double digits by halftime with 11. She had a personal 5-0 run with a hook shot and a left corner 3 that, paired with a five-plus minute scoring drought by the Javelinas, put the TexAnns in control with a 32-21 lead at the half.
She hopes to see Tarleton continue to work the inside-out game over the final five games of the regular season.
“We just need to keep getting the ball inside, and if nothing is there then kicking it out for open looks,” she said. “That’s when we are at our best.”
It was 42-29 early in the third quarter before A&M-Kingsville cut it to eight once late in the third. Tarleton was leading 48-38 heading to the fourth.
Hailey added six boards a pair of assists and two steals to her impressive scoring night, while Ikpeaku Iwobi had eight points and five boards on her senior night. Classmate Travanti Downes came off the bench to collect eight rebounds.
“I know the end of my career is coming, but I’m not trying to look too far ahead,” said Wipff. “We still have a lot of basketball to play and we have strong posts and strong guards.”
Tarleton hosts Angelo State in a key LSC battle at 2 p.m. Saturday and the game will be broadcast on the WatchESPN app.