Outside Shooting the Difference in Tarleton’s Conference Opening Loss to Dixie State

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STEPHENVILLE – On a night with physical play and few whistles, it came down to outside shooting to decide Tarleton and Dixie State’s first ever meeting and Western Athletic Conference season opener at Wisdom Gym on Thursday night. Simply put, the Trailblazers made their deep shots, and the Texans did not.

Dixie State snapped Tarleton’s three-game winning streak with a 57-48 win on the heels of an 8-of-17 (.471) clip from the three-point line, compared to the Texans’ 1-of-16 (.063) mark. The Texans dropped just their second game at home (5-2) this year, falling to 8-4 overall, 0-1 in WAC play. The Trailblazers broke through a two-game skid, improving to 5-7 (1-0 WAC).

Neither team shot the ball particularly well overall, with Dixie State at 18-of-46 (.391), Tarleton at 22-of-60 (.367). With just seven foul calls in the first half and 24 overall, both teams needed to get it done away from contact. The Trailblazers made their second-best clip from outside on the season, and the Texans their worst three-point shooting game since 2013.

The Texans also got to the free throw line six times compared to 15 attempts by the Trailblazers.

Dixie State’s Emily Isaacson led the eight-woman rotation with 25 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-7 from distance, plus 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. She just missed a double-double, securing nine rebounds, to go with three blocks and a steal. It was a new career-high in scoring for the redshirt sophomore.

Seynabou Thiam led the scoring effort for Tarleton with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, also just missing out on a double-double with nine rebounds. Malaya Kendrick and Iyana Dorsey joined her in double figures with 10 points apiece, Kendrick adding five rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Marissa Escamilla made her return from injury, her first game played since Dec. 4, with six points on 3-of-5 shooting.

Tarleton had just 10 turnovers with 16 takeaways, but lost the battle of the boards 39-28. The Texans’ lone made three-pointer came on their second possession of the game at the 8:56 mark in the first quarter. They would miss their next 15 attempts.

The game was all Tarleton at the beginning as the Texans jumped out to a 9-2 lead, five quick points credited to Dorsey. Dixie State’s Macie Warren, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from downtown, buried three long balls in the frame to keep the Trailblazers in arm’s reach at the end of the first quarter, 17-14 Texans.

Dixie State began the second quarter on a 7-0 run, not allowing a point by Tarleton in the first four minutes. It wound up being a six-point frame for Tarleton as they trailed at the break 26-23.

Tarleton kept it within four points the entirety of the third quarter, trailing 37-33 entering the final frame.

The Texans switched things up in the fourth, bringing full court pressure that put Dixie State in a whirlwind. Once trailing 39-35, Tarleton went on a 9-0 run, scoring on five straight possessions overall, to lead 44-39 with under seven minutes to play. The Trailblazers responded with a 13-0 run over nearly five minutes, forcing five straight misses from Tarleton to lead 52-44. Thiam completed an and-1 layup with 2:15 remaining, but the Texans could get little else to go late.

Tarleton will look to rebound against the WAC’s other Utah team to start 2022. They’ll match up with 5-7 Utah Valley on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT at Wisdom Gym. The Wolverines have lost four straight games, dropping their conference opener at Abilene Christian 69-63 on Thursday.

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