By BRAD KEITH
PUEBLO, Colo. (March 10, 2017) — Mackenzie Hailey went on a personal 12-2 run over the final 1:47 of the third quarter, giving Tarleton State new life trailing just 48-43 entering the fourth.
But then the TexAnns (16-14) went cold, and No. 9 Colorado State-Pueblo (28-3) took over.
CSU-Pueblo, the top seed and host of the South Central Region Championship tournament, held Tarleton scoreless during a 6-0 run over the first three minutes of the final stanza, pushing its lead back to double digits and leading by at least six the rest of the way in a 68-59 quarterfinal contest at Massari Arena Friday evening.
The loss ends the season for eighth-seeded Tarleton, which had punched an automatic ticket to the regional tournament by winning the Lone Star Conference Championship tourney last week.
CSU-Pueblo moves on to face fourth-seeded West Texas A&M or fifth-seeded Regis in a regional semifinal at 8:30 p.m. CST Sunday.
The slow start to the fourth left Tarleton trailing 54-43 before the TexAnns made their last real run with a 3 by Kylie Collins and a bucket inside from Shelby Mankins cutting it to 54-48.
But Anderson scored a hard-driving layup moments after Hailey had a shot blocked by Holly Rorher inside, and the lead was back to eight for The Pack. A second-chance basket by Anders on the ensuing CSU-Pueblo possession made it 58-48 with just under four minutes remaining.
Hailey buried a 3 to trim it to 58-51, but CSU-Pueblo scored he next four, with a put back by Rorher pushing the margin back to 62-51.The Pack led by at least six over the final three minutes, not that Tarleton didn’t have chances. The margin was six when Bailey Wipff, who missed much of the first half after suffering a facial injury, missed two free throws, and it was still six when Hailey bounced one off her leg and out of bounds in the final minute.
Tarleton was only in the game in the fourth quarter because Hailey caught fire late in the third. Tarleton trailed 46-31 before the sophomore center and LSC Championship tournament MVP hit four free throws before Ikpeaku Iwobi took a charge on the defensive end. Hailey then buried two consecutive 3-pointers before finishing the third-period scoring with a bucket in the paint.
Haile finished with 23 points and eight rebounds for the TexAnns, She buried a season-high four 3-pointers to keep the TexAnns in the game until the final moments despite shooting just 28 percent from the floor.
CSU-Pueblo didn’t exactly light it either at 39.7 percent from the floor including just 30 pencent from 3 from 3 and an even 50 percent from the stripe, but it was enough to hold on with its defense, which entered the regional ninth in the nation in field goal percentage allowed, leading the way.
CSU-Pueblo played from in front the whole way thanks to an early 8-1 run keyed by a pair of 3-pointer by Tuileisu Anderson, who ended up hitting three long balls and leading The Pack with 15 points. Rohrer, the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year, doubled up with 14 points and 10 boards, while Johnson scored 11. CSU-Pueblo enoyed a 40-16 advantage scoring in the paint.
Tatum and Iwobi each cored eight for Tarleton, while Collins and Travanti Downes each scored six. The loss ended the careers of Iwobi, Wipff and Downes.
The Pack finished the opening quarter up 22-13, and a 8-0 run that wrapped around the end of the first and beginning of the second pushed it to 27-13, their largest lead other than the 15-point margin before Hailey brought the TexAnns back into it late in the third.
Tarleton answered the 14-point deficit with nine straight points, featuring four points from Iwobi, a 3 by Hailey and a bucket inside by Tiara Tatum to make it 27-22. But CSU-Pueblo scored the last six of the half, leading 33-22 at intermission.
Anderson had nine at half for CSU-Pueblo. Tarleton, which shot just 24 percent and was out-rebounded 27-19 in the opening two quarters, was led by Hailey with 8 and Iwobi with six before halftime.
Wipff was injured late in the first quarter when she combined with a CSU-Pueblo player and was banged to the floor while scrambling for a loose ball. She spent the rest of the first half receiving attention and ice from athletic trainers but returned to start the third quarter.
It was the second meeting between the teams. CSU-Pueblo beat Tarleton 76-64 in a classic at Massari Arena back on November 19.