STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton had been in a winter freeze offensively during their six-game losing streak, but Wednesday’s showing was much more familiar, and much needed to get the Texans’ season back on track.
The Texans (7-9, 1-4 WAC) took down UTRGV (7-8, 1-3) 70-60 at Wisdom Gym in a complete team effort, clicking offensively and shutting down the Vaqueros late for their first conference victory of the year. Tarleton improved to 6-1 in Stephenville this year, and has now split the all-time series against UTRGV 3-3.
The Texans had their best shooting performance since Dec. 19 and their most lethal threat from outside since Dec. 6, making 22-of-51 (.431) from the field and 9-of-22 (.409) from distance, plus a 17-of-19 (.895) clip from the free throw line, their second most efficient night from the stripe on the year.
Teresa Da Silva scored her fifth 20+ point game of the season and her first since Dec. 6, going for 21 points on 5-of-10 shooting from deep, six rebounds, three assists and a block. Her five 20+ point games are the tied-second most such games in the WAC this year, and she’s back in the top-five in scoring in the conference at 15.0 points per game.
Mayra Caicedo tied her season-high in assists with six, adding 14 points (7-8 FT) and three rebounds. Elise Turrubiates had a game-high nine rebounds off the bench, also recording 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting, plus three steals in 22 minutes. Jenna Dick scored 10 points with two three-point makes.
The start of games had been troublesome for the Texans recently, so head coach Misty Wilson changed up the starting group, inserting Mason Jones and Starr Omozee. It paid dividends, presenting a better flow to the offense that kept Tarleton step-for-step with an early good-shooting UTRGV squad. The main culprit for the Vaqueros was Tarleton’s former guard Iyana Dorsey, who played 50 career games in the purple and white over the past two years. She nailed her first two threes over the first 90 seconds and had seven points in the opening quarter. Six different Texans scored in the first quarter, which ended with UTRGV up one, 15-14.
In the second quarter, Tarleton hit a brief cold spell that helped UTRGV take their largest lead of the game, up five at 26-21 midway through. Da Silva buried a three to snap Tarleton out of it, and Dick closed the half with a deep shot with just two ticks remaining to put the Texans in front at the break 28-27.
With 22 points in the third, Tarleton had their highest scoring quarter since Dec. 31, with splits of 50/60/88. They maintained a healthy lead nearly the entire 10 minutes, but sent the Vaqueros to the free throw line 11 times, so the result was a nail biter at Wisdom with Tarleton leading 50-46 headed to the fourth.
Dick opened the final frame with a three, but UTRGV answered right back with six straight to get within one. Then Da Silva, Turrubiates and Caicedo led Tarleton on a 11-0 run to a 12-point lead, not allowing a point by UTRGV for four minutes. That was essentially the game, thanks to a strong night at the line by Tarleton to ice it.
Dorsey finished with 15 points (3-7 3PT) and two rebounds in 26 minutes. Mele Kailahi had 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Deborah Ogayemi finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and three steals, but also had eight turnovers.
Tarleton avoided trouble despite being out-rebounded 41-30 by scoring 21 points off of 16 forced turnovers, while allowing just three points off of their 13 giveaways. They also forced the Vaqueros to shoot just 23-of-60 (.383) from the field, including 5-of-21 (.238) from the three-point line.
There were 11 lead changes and six ties Wednesday, setting up for a good one in Edinburg come Feb. 22.
Next for Tarleton will be a chance to get one back against UT Arlington. The Lady Mavericks defeated the Texans just two weeks ago in a New Year’s Eve affair at the College Park Center. Now they’ll be in Stephenville on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, the first game of another Wisdom doubleheader.