Texans drill Arlington Baptist for largest season-opening win in 18 years

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STEPHENVILLE – For Tarleton on Wednesday, there was a lot to live up to following last season’s matchup against Arlington Baptist, an 81-point Texan win that set a new program record for margin of victory. Well, it may not have been an 81-point win on Wednesday, but it was close, and the Texans again made some history on the night.

Tarleton (1-0, 0-0 WAC) drilled Arlington Baptist (0-2, 0-0 NCCAA) in the Texans’ 2022-23 season opener at Wisdom Gym 90-40. The 50-point win is Tarleton’s largest season-opening win in 18 years, when Tarleton beat Hillsdale FW Baptist by 67 points in 2004, 101-34. To put that into perspective, longtime head coach Misty Wilson had recently finished her playing career for the purple and white.

It was a solid night overall for Tarleton, who got to play all 13 of their healthy players, with 11 of them logging at least 10 minutes. Newcomer Teresa Da Silva impressed all-around, recording game-highs in points (20), rebounds (seven) and assists (six), shooting 7-of-10 from the floor, 4-of-7 from distance, adding two steals and two blocks. It was the most points scored in a Tarleton season-opener since Kiara Wright dropped 32 points on St. Mary’s in 2013. Da Silva started in the backcourt alongside Tarleton’s most experienced newcomer, Mayra Caicedo, who played a team-high 26 minutes, nabbing a tied-team-high four steals, to go with six points (3-5 FG) and five assists.

Nyajah Mitchels, one of the top finishers on the team last year, made 4-of-7 Wednesday to finish with 12 points, her third double-digit scoring game as a Texan, adding five rebounds and two steals. She got the start at center, her second time starting at Tarleton. Starting at the No. 3 and 4 spots were Tyler Jackson (10 points, 3-5 FG, 2-4 3PT, four rebounds, three assists, four steals) and Emilia Axelsson, who made the season’s first basket, a three-pointer on Tarleton’s first possession, finishing with four points and four rebounds.

The bench was led by Viktoria Ivanova, who dropped 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting, three rebounds and two steals.

The Texans shot the ball well all night, making 32-of-62 (.516) from the floor and 10-of-28 (.357) from downtown. They’ve now won nine straight games when shooting at least 50 percent from the field. This was the second time in two seasons Tarleton has made 10+ three-pointers, the other time coming again against Arlington Baptist.

Defensively, the Texans forced 27 turnovers with 21 steals, the most steals by Tarleton in a game in at least the past 10 years. They also forced a 16-of-54 (.296) clip from the floor, and allowed the Patriots to get to the free throw line just eight times, whistled for just 11 fouls. The Texans, who led wire-to-wire, outscored the Patriots in the paint 44-12, and had 46 points off of turnovers to ABU’s seven off of their 16 takeaways.

The first quarter was actually fairly competitive, despite Tarleton opening up a 10-0 lead to start. The Patriots clawed their way back into it to trail by just five at the end of the frame, 19-14. In the second quarter, Arlington Baptist got within three, 23-20, with 6:37 remaining. Then the floodgates opened. Tarleton exploded on a 16-0 run and allowed just three points on free throws the rest of the second quarter to take a 42-23 lead at halftime.

In fact, the Patriots went 8:18 of game time without a made field goal, finally getting one to fall at the 8:19 mark in the third quarter in a 20-point game. The third quarter was the largest point differential in the game, a 19-point advantage for Tarleton as they scored 32 points in the 10-minute frame. They made 11-of-15 (.733) in the third, including 4-of-7 (.571) from distance.

In the fourth, the Texans’ offense slowed down, and their defense further intensified, allowing just four points over the final 10 minutes of play. The Patriots were forced to just a 2-of-15 (.133) clip in the final quarter.

This was Tarleton’s first win in the season-opener since 2019-20, although it marked their sixth straight home-opening win. The Texans will stay home for one more, a Saturday night matchup with UNT Dallas at 7 p.m.

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