By BRAD KEITH
ALLEN (March 5, 2015) — Tarleton State tips off its 13th Lone Star Conference Championship appearance with a bit of history on the side of the TexAnns – they have lost to Texas Woman’s more than once in a season only once in 32 years.
Tarleton and TWU face off at 6 p.m. Thursday in a LSC women’s quarterfinal contest at Allen Event Center, where top seed West Texas A&M and No. 2 Midwestern State each moved on with convincing wins on Wednesday.
The TexAnns are the No. 4 seed and TWU No. 5 after they split their regular season meetings with each team winning at home. TWU defeated Tarleton 63-54 in Denton on January 3, but the TexAnns returned the favor in Stephenville, winning 82-76 in overtime on February 1.
Tarleton enters the contest on a three-game win streak under Misty Wilson, the school’s winning first-year head coach since joining NCAA in 1994.
Leading the TexAnns is second-team all-conference selection Kathy Thomas, a senior guard, at 14.2 points per game, while Ikpeaku Iwobi, a sophomore forward, has eight double-doubles and averages of 10.5 points and 8.6 rebounds. Thomas has 99 career 3-pointers, and could become the ninth TexAnn ever to knock down 100 shots from beyond the arc.
Balance is truly the key for Tarleton, as four others – junior guards Bailey Wipff and Raven McGrath as well as senior forward Karli Moore and junior center Breanna Fuller average more than six points per game. Meagan O’Dell, a junior guard, averages 5.9 and has been hot of late, scoring 14 at McMurry and 11 at home against Texas A&M-Commerce.
The 97-53 win over A&M-Commerce on Sunday secured the fourth seed for the TexAnns, and was arguably their most complete performance of the year with a lot on the line. A loss would have knocked Tarleton down to the No. 6 seed, but thanks to a 58.3 shooting percentage in the first half – including 56.3 percent from the arc – the game was never in doubt.
Texas Woman’s has been hot and cold, going 4-6 over its last 10 games. The Pioneers did win their last outing, going on the road eight days ago to trump A&M-Commerce 63-53.
TWU also relies on balanced scoring, led by guard Kenesha Saygo at 11.3 points per game. Emily Spector averages 10.7 inside, and each had big outings against Tarleton already this year. Three others – Erin Maxwell, Ashley Salazar and Ria Pateraki average more than six points.
The TexAnns lead their all-time series against TWU, 28-12. The teams have met once in Allen, with the TexAnns cruising to a 61-46 win in last year’s tournament semifinals.