Tarleton snaps skid with impressive road win at Abilene Christian

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ABILENE, Texas – Saturday marked the latest chapter in the Tarleton-Abilene Christian storied rivalry, and the result matched a recent trend – a Tarleton win.

The Texans won for the ninth time in their last 10 games against the Wildcats with their 73-67 win at the Teague Center in Abilene, Texas. This was the first meeting in nine years between the two rival teams, last matching up on Feb. 9, 2013. Since February of 2009, Tarleton is now 9-1 against ACU.

The Texans snapped their three-game losing streak and improved to 13-10 on the season, 5-7 in WAC play. This is their most WAC wins in a season, surpassing their four last year. ACU dropped to 15-9 overall, 7-6 in the conference.

Saturday showed just how much Tarleton had been missing Seynabou Thiam, and how vital Iyana Dorsey and Jenna Dick are to the team, as well, who missed the last game at Chicago State. Thiam achieved her fifth double-double of the season in her first game played since Jan. 27 with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Thiam has matched the most blocks in a single-season in team history, tying Kaelie Butler’s 58 total blocks in 1993-94.

Tyler Jackson scored a career-high 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, adding three assists in 30 minutes. She has her first string of double-digit scoring games as a member of the purple and white. Malaya Kendrick tallied nine points on 4-of-4 shooting, five rebounds and two assists. Lucy Benson secured nine rebounds, adding six points. Dick and Dorsey had seven and six points in their returns, respectively.

The Texans had their second-best shooting performance of the season, making 26-of-51 (.510) from the field, only short of their 55.1 percent game against Arlington Baptist on Dec. 4. Tarleton made 8-of-20 (.400) from downtown, their most three-point makes in a game since Dec. 11.

Emily Cunningham made her second straight start and opened Tarleton’s scoring by nailing a three-pointer on their first possession, a sign of things to come. Both teams stayed close the entirety of the opening quarter, each shooting 50 percent from the field. Over the final three minutes, the Texans went on an 11-2 run to lead 22-15 after the first 10 minutes, capped off by Jackson’s first three-point make at the buzzer. In the second quarter, ACU made just 5-of-14 (.357) from the field, and had just one three-point make in the first half, despite entering the contest with the most three-point makes in the WAC. Tarleton owned a 12-point lead at halftime, 40-28.

The Texans maintained a healthy lead throughout the third quarter, going up by as many as 14 points, ending the third with a 59-46 advantage. ACU made things interesting in the fourth quarter, sending a barrage of three-point shots to try to get back in it. The Wildcats attempted 13 three-pointers in the fourth quarter alone, and got within two points with 2:04 remaining in the game. Jackson found Benson cutting through the lane for a huge bucket to put Tarleton back up by two possessions, and Kendrick followed with a dagger pull-up jumper. Turnovers were the only problem for the Texans in the game, especially in the fourth quarter, where they had eight of their 18 giveaways. But strong shooting (5-of-7 in the frame) and rebounding (37 to ACU’s 31) put Tarleton over the top.

The Texans will end their three-game road trip at Utah Valley on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT. Tarleton beat the Wolverines on New Year’s Day 61-48. Dorsey scored 20 points in the home win, with 10 points coming in the final three minutes, part of a 26-11 Tarleton fourth quarter.

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