NATCHITOCHES – Seynabou Thiam served notice to the Western Athletic Conference and anyone who takes the hardwood opposite Tarleton this winter with a historic performance on Saturday.
The 6-6 center finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds and stuffed five shots to lead the Texans to a 51-47 victory over Northwestern State inside Prather Coliseum.
Her double-double was the first of the season for Tarleton and first-ever in the Texans’ Division I era. Thiam’s 18 boards were the most in a game by a Texan in four years. She now ranks 13th in the nation in blocks per game (2.8) and continues to lead the WAC in the category.
Tarleton improved to 7-3 on the season with the win ahead of its final nonconference game against Incarnate Word on Wednesday in San Antonio. Tarleton will enter the contest as winners of three of its last four ballgames. A victory over the Cardinals would match the Texans’ best start to a season under eighth-year head coach Misty Wilson since the team began the 2019-2020 campaign 8-3.
NSU fell to 6-4 and saw its three-game winning streak snapped.
Thiam’s clinic was a catalyst in a come-from-behind effort by Tarleton.
The Texans trailed 23-19 at halftime after turning the ball over 16 times and shooting 8-27 (29.6 percent) from the field in the opening 20 minutes.
But Thiam, who entered the halftime with eight points and boards apiece, righted the ship in the third quarter. The Dakar, Senegal native scored eight of Tarleton’s first 10 points over the first five minutes of the period to knot the scoreboard at 29-29.
The two teams combined to start the game 0-19 from deep. Iyana Dorsey, though, snapped the dry spell in a big way. The sophomore and Tarleton’s leading scorer (10.3 ppg) drained a triple from the top of the key with 29 seconds left in the third quarter to get Tarleton within a point at 37-36 entering the final frame.
Tarleton had led for just 22 seconds heading into the fourth quarter but quickly took control of the game down the stretch.
Jenna Dick followed up Dorsey’s 3-pointer with consecutive long bombs of her own to stake Tarleton to a 42-39 lead – one it never relinquished – at the eight-minute mark.
The Demons crawled back within two points at 43-41 with 3:00 left, but Thiam and Dorsey counterpunched with consecutive layups to swell Tarleton’s advantage back to six with 1:35 to go. Dorsey knocked down a pair at the line to keep Tarleton in front 49-45 with less than 1:00 to play. NSU again cut Tarleton’s lead to one possession with a jumper on the following play and had a chance to shoot for the tie or win with nine seconds to go following a turnover. But the Texans forced a turnover of their own out of a timeout, prompting the Lady Demons to foul with three seconds left on the clock. Tyler Jackson then hit both free throws to ice the win.
Thiam’s defensive prowess was on full display in the final frame. The third-year sophomore snagged four rebounds – three defensive – and blocked two shots.
With Thiam anchoring Tarleton down low, the Lady Demons went cold down the stretch. NSU went 4-15 (26 percent) from the field in the fourth quarter.
Stout defense all afternoon enabled Tarleton to find its offensive stride in time to mount its comeback bid.
The Lady Demons were 0-13 from deep and had just nine attempts at the charity stripe. NSU’s 47 points scored were a season-low in home games as was its 35 percent mark (20-56) from the field.
The Texans finished with 12 steals – their fourth double-digit steal effort of the season and first against a D1 opponent. Thiam led the way with three swipes while Dick and fellow guard Malaya Kendrick had two steals each.
Tarleton has now held opponents under 60 points on seven occasions. Just two opponents have shot above 40 percent against the Texans.
Saturday’s effort further cemented Tarleton’s place atop the WAC statistical leaderboard in most major defensive categories. The Texans continue to lead their conference peers in scoring defense (54.8 ppg), field goal percent defense (33.1percent) and blocks per game (5.4).
The Texans finished 12-15 at the line and had nine attempts at the charity stripe to the Lady Demons’ two in the second half.
The Texans also limited their giveaways to six in the second half while pestering the Lady Demons into 11 turnovers. NSU finished with 19 turnovers for the game. It marked the seventh time this season Tarleton has induced 15-or-more turnovers.
Tarleton again pounded the glass with success, finishing with a 42-34 edge in rebounds. The Texans are now 7-1 in games when out-rebounding their opponent.
Tipoff for Tarleton’s nonconference finale at UIW is set for 2 p.m. The matchup will be the first between the schools since 2013 when the Texans and Cardinals were members of the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II. Tarleton owns an eight-game winning streak and 19-8 head-to-head record over UIW.