STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton earned a much-needed victory over Texas A&M-Commerce Tuesday night in what could prove to be a significant victory as the NCAA regional rankings begin to unfold over the next three weeks.
The TexAnns survived a fourth-quarter scare from the Lions in Wisdom Gym Tuesday night in a 65-59 victory. It was Tarleton’s fourth straight win.
Tarleton went into halftime clinging to a 29-24 lead after shooting .448 from the field in the opening half. The TexAnns also force 18 Texas A&M-Commerce turnovers in the first two quarters and matched the Lions with 14 boards.
In the third quarter, Tarleton turned up the defensive pressure.
The TexAnns held Commerce to just 1-9 shooting from the floor and forced eight more turnovers, led by five third-quarter steals from Kaylee Allen. Katie Webster and Destiney Winkfield ended the quarter with back-to-back buckets to cap off a 19-5 run in the third and sent Tarleton into the fourth holding onto a 48-29 lead.
Commerce put together its best quarter of the night in the fourth – outscoring Tarleton 30-17 in the final frame – but the TexAnns came up big when they needed it. The Lions pulled things as close as four on two different occasions inside the final two minutes, but Mackenzie Hailey had the answer both times as the junior from Burleson answered with a bucket with 47 seconds left and a pair of free throws with 30 ticks remaining on the clock.
The Lions had a chance to make it a one-possession game with 23 seconds left, but Kandyn Faurie stepped in front of Princess Davis and drew the charge to give the ball back to Tarleton. A parade of free throws the rest of the way led to a six-point win for Tarleton.
Hailey was stellar once again as she postseason 20 points and seven rebounds while Katie Webster chipped in 13 points and eight boards. Allen filled up the stat sheet with eight points, eight rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and five steals.
Kyle Collins and Nina Alvarez each poured in seven points to round out the scoring from the starting five while Winkfield (5), Faurie (4), and Lucy Benson (1) combined for 10 points off the bench.
Tarleton will return to action Saturday afternoon at Kitty Magee Arena in Denton for a 2 p.m. showdown with Texas Woman’s.