Chaotic 3rd quarter costs Texans against Abilene Christian on Senior Day

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STEPHENVILLE – The first half between Tarleton and Abilene Christian lived up to the billing of a rivalry matchup between two teams with the exact same record. The third quarter went awry for several reasons, costing the Texans on Senior Day at Wisdom Gym in both teams’ regular season finale.

The Texans lost to the Wildcats on Saturday 80-60, splitting the season-series 1-1. Tarleton finishes the regular season 16-13 overall, 8-10 in the Western Athletic Conference, improving by seven wins year-over-year. It marked the largest improvement of wins by a WAC team year-over-year this season, not counting Dixie State, who played just three games last season. ACU improved to 17-12 overall, 9-9 in WAC play, snapping their season-long three-game losing streak.

To start the day, Tarleton honored their six seniors with special ceremonies. Well-deserved ovations went to Jurnee President, Malaya Kendrick, Emily Cunningham, Kaitlyn Guillory, Marissa Escamilla and Lucy Benson.

In the first quarter, Abilene Christian was feeling it, making 8-of-11 (.727) in the frame, including 3-of-5 (.600) from distance, plus 5-of-6 (.833) from the free throw line. Tarleton stuck around despite relatively poor shooting by forcing five turnovers and getting nine more shot attempts. ACU led 24-19 after one.

The Texans matched the Wildcats’ level of shooting in the second quarter, making 8-of-13 (.615) from the field in the frame. The Texans ended the half on a 9-2 run, capped off by a President deep jumper shortly before the buzzer to tie the game at the break, 39-39.

Then came the third quarter. ACU scored the first eight points, not allowing Tarleton to score until nearly six minutes had passed. Several head-scratching calls – or non-calls – were made, getting to the point where head coach Misty Wilson was fed up enough, she received a technical foul after a Wildcat jumped to shoot, landed without shooting, and no travel was called. As loud as the gym was pregame with positive cheering, the opposite was deafening as ACU’s Jamie Bonnarens sank both technical free throws. In the frame, ACU outscored Tarleton 20-6 to lead 59-45 entering the fourth. The Wildcats ended the third on a 9-2 frame.

It grew to a 11-2 run to start the fourth to give ACU a 61-45 lead. The Texans refused to quit though. They went on a 9-0 run to get within seven points, the last five points coming courtesy Escamilla. The Wildcats proved too much to handle shortly thereafter, allowing just six points over the last six-and-a-half minutes.

Escamilla led Tarleton with 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting, adding four rebounds. Tyler Jackson, the Texans’ leading scorer in the first matchup with ACU, had 10 points and three rebounds off the bench. President poured in nine points. Benson tallied eight points, four rebounds and five steals. Kendrick finished with six points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals.

ACU’s Bonnarens had a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 4-of-8 from distance, to go with four rebounds. Joining her in double figures were Emma Middleton (14 points, 5-8 FG, four rebounds), Bella Earle (10 points, 3-4 FG, three rebounds, two blocks), and Kamryn Mraz (10 points, seven rebounds, five assists).

ACU made 28-of-50 (.560) from the field compared to Tarleton’s 25-of-61 (.410) clip.

Tarleton’s regular season is over, but since they finished with a winning record, they are eligible for postseason play. They’ll play the waiting game now, as the conference tournament happens next week, before other postseason tournaments commence.

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