By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 20, 2016) — In the Ashmore family, significant dates are often marked or remembered on the basketball court. Dad’s a coach, older brother played college ball and Morgan Ashmore, well she’s a senior at Tarleton State.
A senior who knows just how to mark a special occasion.
Ashmore drained three third-quarter 3-pointers to help Tarleton (16-9, 10-5) wipe out a 16-point deficit before holding on at the end for their seventh straight victory, 53-52, over No. 9 West Texas A&M (23-3, 12-3) on senior night at Wisdom Gym.
When West Texas A&M missed at the buzzer, Ashmore and fellow four-year TexAnn Raven McGrath met at half court with an emotional embrace few of the 2,432 in attendance will ever forget.
Ashmore discusses her team’s seventh straight win and celebrating senior night here:
Tiara Tatum also hit a 3-pointer during the big Tarleton comeback. The TexAnns trailed 34-18 following a WTAMU 3-pointer by Michaela Neuhaus in the opening moments of the third before Ashmore and Tatum did much of the damage as Tarleton finished the quarter on a 25-10 run to trail 44-43 entering the fourth.
The break at the end of the quarter only slowed the breathing as Tatum, often the smallest player on the court, slashed into the lane and acrobatically tipped in a put back to put Tarleton ahead for good. Meagan O’Dell then scored a layup in transition following a missed 3-point try by WTAMU, and Tarleton led 47-44 with nine minutes left.
Sasha Watson pulled WT within one before Tarleton scored the next four for a 51-46 advantage with under five minutes left.
Then the scoring hit a stalemate and defenses took over. More than two minutes went by before a 3-pointer by Alie Decker pulled WTAMU within 51-49 and another minute passed before Ikpeaku Iwobi banked in one for Tarleton to make it 53-49 with 1:30 to go.
Neuhaus hit the biggest shot of the game for West Texas A&M, a 3-pointer to cut it to one, but that would prove to be the final points of the game.
Tarleton threw away a pass that was picked off by Neuhaus with 47 seconds left, but following a foul in the half court McLain missed a jumper only to keep possession on a deadfall rebound.
The Lady Buffs went with Watson for the final shot, an off-balanced jumper from 12 feet away. Zantaya Davis grabbed the board, but the buzzer was already sounding and Tarleton already hustling to celebrate at mid court.
Ashmore led Tarleton with 11 points, four assists and two steals, while Breanna Fuller scored 10 and collected five boards. Bailey Wipff scored eight.
WTAMU was led by Neuhaus with 11 while Lilley Vander Zee, a big post from nearby Granbury, scored 10. Madison Parker and Watson each added nine.
The Lady Buffs used a 21-2 run to gain their 34-18 lead. The bulk of that came at the end of the first half, when they scored 18 of the last 20 points. Moments before the run began, Tarleton took a 16-13 lead on back-to-back 3-pointers by Wipff and McGrath.