By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 5, 2015) — St. Mary’s took the lead for good with a 9-0 run in the third quarter then buried Tarleton State in the fourth for a 69-53 non-conference win at Wisdom Gym Saturday night.
The Lady Rattlers (6-1), winners of six straight, broke a 40-40 tie with a 3-pointer by Arysia Porter before fast-break layups by Kiara Etheridge, Kealani Marquez and Mariah Lee opened up a nine-point lead late in the third quarter of the battle between South Central Region rivals.
Ikpeaku Iwobi scored in the paint to get Tarleton (4-3) within 49-42 at the end of the third, then secured her fifth double-double seven games into her junior season in the opening moments of the fourth. She led Tarleton with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Tarleton scored the first four points of the fourth on layups by Morgan Ashmore and Bailey Wipff, but Etheridge ended the rally with a St. Mary’s bucket in the paint to start a decisive 18-5 run. The last six St. Mary’s points of that stretch came on 3-pointers by Dezirae Elias to open up a 67-51 lead with 3:04 remaining.
St. Mary’s was led by Etheridge with 19 points and seven boards. Elias scored 12 and Porter 10. Fields and Lee each netted eight.
Iwobi was the only double-digit sorcerer or rebounder for Tarleton. Wipff and Averie Mack each added nine.
St. Mary’s shot 45 percent from the floor and Tarleton only 32.1 percent. The TexAnns were especially anemic from outside the arc, going just 1-12.
Tarleton does not play next week due to final exams. The TexAnns host Oklahoma Baptist at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 14.
St. Mary’s looked surprised when Tarleton, for the first time this season, employed a zone defense for much of the second quarter, when a 10-0 run lasted six minutes to give the TexAnns a 28-19 lead. Iwobi and Mack each scored four during the run, and Iwobi had nine points and nine boards at halftime.
After missing 11 straight field goal attempts during the Tarleton barrage, St. Mary’s responded with a 9-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from LaBraile Fields to trim the TexAnn lead to 29-27 at intermission.
Neither team shot better than 37 percent from the field or 20 percent from the arc in the first half, which included nine lead changes and three ties.