LAS VEGAS – A furious second half comeback by Tarleton fell short in a 65-59 loss to Eastern Michigan in the Texans second and final game at the South Point Classic on Monday.
The Texans rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to retake the lead 59-57 with 3:06 remaining after Iyana Dorsey drained a 3-point shot from the left key. Eastern Michigan then closed the game on an 8-0 scoring run as the Texans went without a field goal the rest of the way.
Tarleton held the Eagles scoreless for more than seven minutes in the fourth quarter to claw its way back in its final nonconference game this season.
A pair of jump shots from senior Alexa Hoy and a finish in the paint by Kandyn Faurie pulled the Texans within one point at the 4:06 mark of the final frame and set up Dorsey’s go-ahead triple.
Hoy finished with a team-high 16 points while Dorsey (14 points) and forward Lucy Benson (12 points) also scored in double figures. Benson ignited the Texans’ offense in the third quarter, finishing twice at the rim and converting 3-4 foul shots to pull Tarleton within seven points entering the final frame. Dorsey also scored seven of her points in the third frame.
Benson, a 5-11 senior from Kennedale, Texas, tied her career high in rebounds with nine to lead the Texans on the glass.
The Texans trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half as the team got off to a slow offensive start. Tarleton shot 6-24 from the field in the game’s opening 20 minutes and connected just twice from long range. Tarleton took advantage of its opportunities at the foul line to stay in the contest early, as the team went 12-14 at the charity stripe in the first half and was 20-24 for the game.
Tarleton came out of the second half reenergized defensively as well. The Texans held the Eagles to 26 points out of the intermission and limited the Eagles to 10-30 shooting and no made 3-point field goals. The Eagles 36 percent shooting clip was the lowest opponent shooting percentage Tarleton has allowed against a Division I opponent this season.
The Eagles took advantage of extra opportunities at the rim, though, to stay in front of Tarleton. The Texans were outscored 16-4 in second chance points and 38-18 inside the paint.
The Texans’ nine turnovers were the team’s second-lowest single game mark of the season.
Hoy and fellow guard Jayci Morton each finished with four rebounds while Emily Cunningham led Tarleton in assists with four in her third game back from a brief injury absence. Callie Boyles swatted her 18th and 19th shots in 20 minutes off the bench and now leads the Western Athletic Conference in blocks per game (2.7).
The loss dips Tarleton’s overall record to 3-6. Eastern Michigan, which lost to Gonzaga in its first game of the tournament on Sunday, is now 4-3. The Texans remain winless away from Wisdom Gym.
The team will now break for 18 days before beginning its debut season in the WAC with a pair of games against Grand Canyon on Jan. 8-9 in Phoenix. Tarleton’s WAC home-opener is scheduled for Jan. 15 against California Baptist.