Fourth quarter collapse sinks Tarleton’s bid for WAC road win at UTRGV

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EDINBURG – Suddenly nothing went right in a game where everything went Tarleton’s way. 

At least, that was the narrative down the stretch on Thursday inside the UTRGV Fieldhouse. 

The Vaqueros outscored Tarleton 27-8 in the fourth quarter to steal a 64-55 Western Athletic Conference win in the second-and-final meeting between the teams this season. 

The Texans led 47-37 entering the final frame and had maintained a double-digit advantage for more than 16 minutes between the second and third periods. 

A pair of free throws by Jenna Dick boosted the Texans’ edge to 49-37 following its first possession in the fourth quarter. 

But the game quickly morphed into a collapse that will haunt Tarleton for days to come. 

Taylor Muff scored six of her game-high 25 points to ignite an 11-0 Vaqueros run to draw the hosts within a point of the Texans with 5:16 to go. 

Dick drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key on the following play to stop the bleeding. Her triple proved to be a temporary stopgap, however. 

The Vaqueros closed the show on a 16-3 run and held Tarleton without a field goal over the final 4:58. Muff and Hallie Jones (10 points) each connected from long range while Tiffany McGarity scored all six of her points in the decisive surge. 

Missed opportunities at the foul line hurt the Texans. Tarleton had three chances to either tie or make the game a one-possession affair at the charity stripe but went 3-6. 

The result snapped a three-game losing streak for UTRGV. 

With the loss went Tarleton’s bid to secure a winning record in the 2021-22 campaign and its second season at NCAA Division I. The Texans now sit at 14-12 overall and 6-9 in WAC play with three games remaining. 

Marissa Escamilla delivered her best offensive outing of her senior year, scoring a team and season-high 18 points on 6-11 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench. 

Dick was not far off pace, tallying 17 points on the strength of a 5-7 clip from downtown to pair with four rebounds. The five long balls from the Langley, British Columbia native were the most in a true Division I game this season. 

Fellow guard Malaya Kendrick did a little bit of everything for Tarleton while running point as is par the course. The 5-7 guard netted 10 points and led Tarleton in rebounds (seven) and assists (four). She has now been Tarleton’s leader on the glass. 

Make no mistake about it. Tarleton was the superior team for three quarters and change. 

The Texans led for 33:58 in the contest. 

Tarleton scored the game’s first seven points and held the Vaqueros without a field goal until the 4:46 mark of the first quarter. The Texans then bookended 3-pointers from Dick and Escamilla around a post up from the right block by the latter over the final 3:09 of the quarter to lead it 17-10 entering the second quarter. 

Tarleton began the game 7-13 from the field and 3-3 from downtown. 

The Texans then fed the paint to the tune of a combined 11 points by Escamilla and 6-6 center Seynabou Thiam to swell their lead to 32-23. 

Tarleton shot 52 percent combined (14-27) in the first half while holding UTRGV to a 35 percent clip. The Texans also dished out 11 dimes to the Vaqueros’ six.  

Even as UTRGV began to find its offensive footing out of the intermission, the long ball again proved to be Tarleton’s friend. The Texans knocked down a trio of 3-pointers at key junctures in the period.  

Dick knocked down consecutive attempts from behind the arc to fuel a 10-0 run that gave Tarleton its largest lead of the night at 42-26 with 4:27 remaining in the frame. Tyler Jackson then joined the party from downtown three minutes later, keeping Tarleton ahead comfortably at 47-35. 

The Vaqueros out-rebounded Tarleton 41-28 for the game and 25-11 in the second half. UTRGV finished with a 34-12 advantage in points in the paint. 

Tarleton won’t have to wait long to wash the taste of a frustrating defeat from its mouth. The Texans now make the six-hour bus ride along the Texas Gulf to Beaumont to face Lamar at 2 p.m. on Saturday inside the Montagne Center. Tarleton is 9-2 this season in games coming off a loss. 

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