By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 11, 2017) — Sometimes, you just have to steal one.
Tarleton State did just that Saturday, scoring the winning points from the free throw line with 1.8 seconds remaining after Angelo State received a technical foul for calling timeout with none remaining.
Bailey Wipff went to the line and buried both technical foul shots for a 79-77 lead. There were 1.81 seconds remaining, and Tarleton inbounded to Travanti Downeas, who dribbled into the far corner to run out the clock.
It’s the third straight win by Tarleton (12-10, 11-5) and resulted from a series of bizarre mishaps by Angelo State (18-4, 12-4), which remains alone in second in the LSC. The Rambelles were ahead 77-75 with the ball and 12 seconds remaining, but struggled to get the ball in and called their final timeout trapped in the corner along their defensive baseline. The second time they got it in, the pass was near the sideline and Taylor Dorsey stepped out of bounds while turning up court.
That gave Tarleton the ball back, and Downes came off a screen by Tiara Tatum to take the ball and bury a game-tying mid-range jumper with 1.81 seconds to go. Tarleton stayed in its press, ASU couldn’t get it in, so the Rambelles did what seemed logical in such a situation – they called timeout.
But they had none. And that, by rule, is a technical foul.
Wipff’s free throws, fittingly, matched her career high of 24 points that she set just two days prior when the TexAnns beat Texas A&M-Kingsville. Wisdom Gym exploded with each one, as the senior guard denied the Rambelles their first victory in Stephenville since February 4, 2006.
It looked for most of the third and all of the fourth quarter like that 11-year streak of TexAnn home victories in the series was about to reach its end.
ASU led 70-59 and had outscored Tarleton 54-29 since trailing 30-16 midway through the second quarter.
But Baylee Peck buried a left corner 3 off a transition pass by who else, Wipff. ASU hit a free throw, but Mackenzie Hailey scored inside for Tarleton and it was a seven-point game with 3:13 still to play. Wipff made it even closer with the last of her four 3-pointers – her second straight outing to hit that many – to make it 71-67 with 2:27 to go.
Wipff assisted again to Hailey after the sophomore forward grabbed a key defensive rebound, and she reached double figures by banking in a layup to make it a two-point game.
Jasine Prophet settled ASU down with a put back in the paint to make it 73-69 with 1:19 on the clock, but Tarleton wasted no time with Wipff beating the defense for an uncontested layup 16 seconds later to cut it two again.
An ill-advised foul near half court sent ASU senior Madi Greenwood to the line where she did her job, burying both to make it 75-71 with 51 seconds left.
But Wipff and Hailey weren’t done either. A give-and-go play with assist from Hailey and bucket by Wipff made it a two-point game again, before ASU made the play that most thought had ended the game.
Christina Harris dribbled out much of the shot clock then drove and hit a step-back 8-foot jumper to restore the two-possession ASU lead with 16 seconds left.
That’s when things got crazy.
Downes scored just four seconds later to make it 77-75, and ASU never got the ball in successfully again.
But Tarleton did after the turnover and Downes evened it up.
“(Tatum) had to come set a screen for me so I could get open and get the ball and then I just wanted to get to the bucket but I had to step back and shoot it because that’s what they gave me,” said Downes of the winning play. “It was awesome, it was all my teammates, they are great.”
And Wipff, as she did throughout the final four minutes in which she scored nine points, delivered.
“It was shocking, nobody could have ever thought they would call timeout when they didn’t have any,” said Wipff. “I just had to calm down because there was so much excitement down on the court, but I took a deep breath and took my time on the free throws.”
ASU had to feel as if it let one get away for the second straight game. Late turnovers and miscues cost them in an 83-80 loss at A&M-Commerce on Thursday. The Rambelles entered the week just a half game behind ENMU for first place in the LSC.
The Rambelles overcame a 30-16 deficit with a 17-4 run to end the first half trailing just 34-33. They scored the final 10 of the half, the last seven by Dorsey, who cut it to one with a steal and breakaway layup that went down with just two seconds on the clock.
Prophet scored six points and Lexi Murphy hit a 3 to highlight a 15-3 run in the third that gave the Rambelles a 52-46 advantage and it was still 58-51 ASU entering the fourth.
ASU limited Hailey to just 10 points, but Ikpeaku Iwobi picked up the slack with a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double for Tarleton, and Downes scored 10 off the bench. The TexAnns shot 50 percent and won despite 18 turnovers.
The Rambelles were led by Prophett with 22 points, Dorsey with 18 and Robinson with 13. They shot 47 percent and had 14 turnovers while out-boarding the TexAnns 37-32. ASU lost despite outscoring the TexAnns 52-30 in the paint, 29-18 off turnovers and 25-15 off the bench.
Tarleton is tied for fourth in the LSC alongside A&M-Commerce, which followed its upset of ASU with a stunning loss to A&M-Kingsville Saturday. ENMU is two games ahead ASU and West Texas A&M, who are tied for second a game ahead of the TexAnns and TAMUC.
Texas Woman’s is another three games back in seventh, just a game ahead of A&M-Kingsville in eighth, and that would be the LSC Championship field if the regular season ended today.
But it doesn’t. Tarleton visits A&M-Commerce on Thursday and Texas Woman’s in Denton next Saturday before closing the season at UT-Permian Basin in Odessa and WTAMU in Canyon the following week.