By BRAD KEITH
ALLEN (March 4, 2017) — Tarleton State is one win from reaching the women’s final of the Lone Star Conference Championship for the first time since its only title in the event in 2013.
The fifth-seeded TexAnns (14-13) face off with eighth-seeded Texas A&M-Kingsville (14-13) in the semifinal round at 6 p.m. Saturday at Allen Event Center, where each toppled higher seeded opponents in the quarterfinal round. The winner meets No. 2 seed Angelo State or No. 3 West Texas A&M in the championship at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Tarleton beat fourth-seeded Texas A&M-Commerce 55-49 Friday, after TAMUK upset No. 1 seed Eastern New Mexico, 69-67 overtime Thursday.
Tarleton swept A&M-Kingsville in the regular season, winning 62-59 in overtime in Kingsville on January 7 and 67-53 in Stephenville on February 9. But if there is anything this tournament has reminded teams and spectators of, it’s that those results don’t mean a lot once March Madness begins.
But the Javelinas appear to be playing their best basketball at the right time of year, upending LSC regular season champ Eastern New Mexico in back-to-back games, both away from Kingsville. The Javs won 85-71 in Portales, New Mexico to conclude the regular season last Saturday, then beating ENMU again in the tournament opener.
Kaolin Roher had 20 points, Angelica Wilson 15 along with nine boards and Shaq Debose 10 points in the tournament upset. Neither team led by more than five the entire way and ENMU suffered just its fifth loss after going 23-3 before the back-to-back defeats.
Roher had 17, Tee Moore 14 and Meesha Wade 10 in the Javs’ overtime home loss to the TexAnns. Lily Hospers had 15 boards in that game and Kaylee Kana added 10. Angelica Wilson was the only double-digit scorer for TAMUK at Stephenville with 11 points and seven boards. Moore and Kana each scored nine and Wade added eight.
For the season, Roher averages 11.1 points and shoots 84.9 percent from the charity stripe. Wade averages 9.3, Moore 8.4 and Kana 6.6 while leading the team at 7.4 rebounds per game.
Like much of the season, Tarleton was led in the tournament opener by Mackenzie Hailey with 14 points and 11 boards. Travanti Downes came off the bench to score 10 and Bailey Wipff, who hit her head on the court in the first quarter and did not return until the second half, also had 10.
Hailey has feasted on the Javs this season with 18 points and 10 boards in Kingsville followed by 21 points and six rebounds in Stephenville. Ikpeaku Iwobi scored 10, Bailey Wipff nine and Travanti Downes eight along with eight boards in Kingsville, then Wipff led everyone with 24 points in the rematch in Stephenville.
Hailey averages 15.7 point and 8.5 boards for the season, while Wipff scores 13.8 and Iwobi 11.1.
Carleton has won 15 straight against A&M-Kingsville, last losing to the Javelinas 62-21 in Kingsville on January 30, 2010. But the teams have never met in the conference tournament, or on a neutral court at all, for that matter.
That changes, of course, Saturday evening, when one team keeps its Cinderella story alive and moves within one win of a conference tournament title and an automatic berth in the Division II playoffs.