SAN ANTONIO – Christmas came three days early for Tarleton women’s basketball.
Indeed, the program moved to 8-3 – tied for its best start ever under eighth-year head coach Misty Wilson and best by any team in the Texans’ Division I era – with a 58-47 victory over Incarnate Word on Wednesday.
Tarleton enters the break riding a three-game winning streak and winners of four-of-five overall. The Texans also upped their record against D1 opposition to 3-3 with the result.
The result didn’t come easy, as UIW mustered a late bid to spoil Tarleton’s holiday plans.
Tarleton led for more than 37 minutes in the matinee tilt and by as many as 14 points at 34-20 to open the second half. The Cardinals, though, got within one possession of the Texans following a 13-6 fourth quarter run that made the score 50-47 with 2:55 to go.
But Tarleton preserved its prize in emphatic fashion, scoring on three straight possessions and holding the Cardinals scoreless the rest of the way.
Jurnee President effectively called game with just over 2:00 remaining, canning a 3-pointer from the left baseline. Seynabou Thiam followed with a right-handed layup after Iyana Dorsey split a half-court trap from the top of the key. Dorsey and Thiam, the reigning Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week, iced the game at the line over the final minute with UIW forced to foul.
The win extended Tarleton’s winning streak over UIW to nine games dating back to when the teams were members of the Lone Star Conference and NCAA Division II. Tarleton now holds a 20-8 edge over the Cardinals in the all-time series.
Malaya Kendrick scored a team-high 12 points on 6-9 shooting.
Eight of the fifth-year senior’s points came in the second half. She twice maintained Tarleton’s double-digit advantage in the third quarter. Kendrick (7.2 rpg) secured an offensive rebound and converted a second-chance layup with 1:36 left to up the Texans’ lead to 42-32, then drained a turnaround jumper on the following possession to give Tarleton a 44-34 edge entering the final frame.
Dorsey joined Kendrick in double figures with 10 points while President was not far behind with nine. The duo was electric from long range all afternoon – Dorsey and President went 5-9 on 3-pointers – and ignited a blistering start for Tarleton from behind the arc.
Tarleton began the game 5-7 from downtown. The Texans’ first four field goals all came from 3-point land. President and Dorsey, respectively, drained 3-pointers on Tarleton’s first two possessions to stake Tarleton to a 6-0 lead. Incarnate Word then took its only lead of the afternoon at 9-6, but Dorsey snapped a six-minute dry spell with an NBA range triple from the left key. Jenna Dick (5 points, 2 assists) then connected from the opposite side of the arc.
Tarleton outscored the Cardinals 18-7 in the second quarter behind seven points from Emily Cunningham. Fellow forward Nya Mitchels scored Tarleton’s first six points out of the intermission to keep the Texans ahead by multiple possessions.
President tied for the game-high in assists with four dimes while Thiam led all players with seven rebounds and two blocks.
Tarleton turned the ball over 12 times in the second half and 20 for the game but pestered the Cardinals into 19 giveaways of their own and kept the game on its terms. The Texans scored 24 points off turnovers and dished out 18 assists to UIW’s five.
Wednesday’s win marked the second straight game in which Tarleton has limited its opponent to 47 points. Tarleton arrived in the Alamo City on the heels of a 51-47 come-from-behind victory at Northwestern State on Saturday. Tarleton improved its conference-leading scoring defense to 53.9 points per game with the result.
UIW shot a season-worst 31 percent (16-51) from the field. The Cardinals’ 47 points scored matched their season low.
Conversely, Tarleton connected at a 50 percent clip (21-42) – its highest mark versus a D1 opponent this season third time doing so in a D1 vs. D1 matchup.
Tarleton now has an opportunity to secure a 9-3 record for the first time under Wilson when it opens Western Athletic Conference play vs. Dixie State on Dec. 30 inside Wisdom Gym. The matchup marks the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Tarleton was slated to host the Trailblazers in back-to-back games in February but Dixie State elected to scrap the conference portion of its 2020-21 schedule due to COVID-19 health and safety concerns.