Texans Start New Year with a Bang, Earn First Conference Win Over Recent NCAA Tournament Team


STEPHENVILLE – Just one day into the new year, the Texans have already chalked up their first win of 2022.

Tarleton used a strong fourth quarter to power their way past Utah Valley on Saturday, 61-48. The Texans won their first conference game in their second try, improving to 9-4 overall (1-1 WAC). The Wolverines fell to 5-8 overall, 0-2 in WAC play.

This was one of the more impressive wins in Tarleton women’s basketball history, as Utah Valley was in the NCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament last season, ousted by the eventual national champion Stanford Cardinal. The Texans remained perfect following a loss this season (4-0), and have already matched their win total from last season in nearly half as many games.

Tarleton looked like a team on a mission to start this one, ready to rinse a disappointing Thursday finish from memory. The Texans scored the game’s first six points and didn’t allow Utah Valley to get on the board for more than four minutes, finally relenting a bucket at the 5:54 mark. The first quarter was all purple and white, who led 17-6 after the first 10 minutes. The Texans allowed just a 2-of-16 (.125) clip from the Wolverines in the frame, including a 0-of-6 display from the three-point line. The Texans shot 60.0 percent themselves, winning their 10th first quarter in their 13th game.

After leading 21-10 with under five minutes left in the second quarter, the Wolverines joined the party, racing to a 13-0 run to take the lead 23-21 in just over two minutes. Utah Valley’s Madison Grange went on a personal 11-0 run with three three-point makes, and three Tarleton turnovers didn’t help the cause. The Texans scored the last four points to lead at the break, 25-23.

Utah Valley picked up where they left off to start the third quarter, scoring the first six points to take a 29-25 lead. Iyana Dorsey put a stop to that, drawing a foul call on a three-point attempt, making all three free throws, and following up with a three-point make the next possession to put Tarleton back in front by two. The two teams traded buckets the rest of the frame, as the third ended with the Wolverines up a pair, 37-35.

With about eight minutes to go, the Wolverines held their largest lead at five. Tarleton responded with a 7-0 run, two straight buckets by Malaya Kendrick and a three-pointer by Jenna Dick. The 7-0 run turned into a 16-3 spurt for Tarleton, who led by eight with 2:28 left. Dorsey scored 10 points in the final three minutes to seal the win, part of a 26-11 Tarleton fourth quarter.

Dorsey led the Texans in scoring with 20 points, thanks to a perfect 12-of-12 mark from the free throw line. It was her second 20+ point game of the season and the fourth of her collegiate career. She added three rebounds and two steals.

Kendrick tallied 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and seven rebounds. That’s three straight double-digit scoring affairs for the senior, her longest such streak of the year. Marissa Escamilla led the bench with nine points on a perfect night shooting, going 4-for-4.

Grange led the Wolverines with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from distance, adding two steals. Josie Williams had 11 points (5-17 FG) and six rebounds. Shay Fano secured 10 rebounds to go with her four points, three assists and two steals.

Tarleton outshot the Wolverines 20-of-45 (.444) to 19-of-57 (.333), and got to the free throw line 11 more times, making 17-of-21. The Texans made just as many three-pointers, four, despite taking half as many attempts (9-to-18).

Next up for Tarleton is a road set further east, at Sam Houston on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. CT, followed by a Saturday game at Stephen F. Austin at 2 p.m. CT. Sam Houston is 5-6 and has yet to play a conference game due to COVID-19 issues within the program. SFA is 10-3 (1-0 WAC).

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