Newcomers lead Tarleton to first victory of 2021-22 in win over Champion Christian

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The Texans defeated Champion Christian 82-66 on Saturday in Wisdom Gym in front of an announced crowd of 712 spectators in their second game of the season. 

Four players – all of whom are newcomers on a roster that features 10 new faces – scored in double figures to stake Tarleton to a comfortable win.  

The win was Tarleton’s second over the Tigers in as many seasons. The Texans earned a memorable 95-27 victory over Champion Christian, which competes as a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association, on Dec. 12. 

With the result, Tarleton has now won five straight home-openers and seven-of-eight under head coach Misty Wilson. 

Guards Jurnee President and Tyler Jackson led Tarleton in scoring with 13 points apiece. President, a graduate transfer from St. Bonaventure, was an efficient 3-6 from downtown and chipped in six rebounds. Jackson, a sophomore, went 4-5 from the field and got to the foul line three times. 

Fellow guard Malaya Kendrick maximized her long-awaited Wisdom Gym debut. The 5-7 senior made her second start in as many games as Tarleton’s point guard and posted her first career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Kendrick joined the program as a fourth-year senior in 2020 but utilized her redshirt season during Tarleton’s inaugural D1 campaign. Her performance on Saturday built off of a seven-rebound, six-point effort at Arkansas on Wednesday. 

The fourth-and-final player to eclipse 10 points was 6-6 forward Seynabou Thiam. The Dakar, Senegal native scored in 11 points in just 13 minutes to pair with six rebounds. 

A 3-pointer from Emily Cunningham off a high ball screen midway through the first quarter snapped a 10-10 gridlock and gave Tarleton the lead for good. Cunningham matched Thiam with six boards and chipped in seven points. Nya Mitchels then scored all eight of her points in the back end of the opening frame to stake the Texans to a 28-20 lead. 

Wilson employed her bench in the second quarter, as 13 faces saw the court. Tarleton led by as many as 14 points at 36-22 and took a 48-39 advantage into the locker room. 

The Texans put the clamps down on an undersized Tigers squad in the third quarter. Tarleton held Champion to just four field goals on 18 attempts to swell their lead to 15 points at 65-50. Conversely, the Texans took the ball inside, netting 12 points in the paint and two trips to the charity stripe.  

Tarleton’s newfound size was on display throughout the afternoon. The Texans canned a program-record 16 made 3-point field goals in last season’s win over Champion Christian but had just one player above 6-0. This time around, four of such players entered the game. 33 of the Tigers’ points came from long range as Tarleton limited its guests to nine field goals inside the key. The Texans enjoyed a 53-31 edge on the glass and forced 19 Tiger turnovers. 

Champion Christian never crawled within more than 12 points of Tarleton in the final frame. 

Iyana Dorsey came within one steal of matching her career-high in the category. The sophomore, who earned All-WAC honorable mention credentials in 2020-21, swiped the ball away four times. Fifth year senior Lucy Benson joined Dorsey, Thiam, Kendrick and President in the starting lineup and added two steals of her own. 

The 82 points scored marked Tarleton’s second-highest scoring output in its D1 era. 

Tarleton continues a three-game homestand vs. Paul Quinn at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and wraps up its 10-day stay in Stephenville opposite Howard Payne on Nov. 20.  

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