Texans use hot start, secure I-20 rivalry game sending Wildcats to 4th straight loss


STEPHENVILLE – In front of a strong Wisdom Gym rivalry crowd, Tarleton State secured the I-20 conference matchup against Abilene Christian on Thursday night in Stephenville. 

Tarleton (6-13, 3-7 WAC) won the game 74-66 as they outrebounded ACU 33-24 and had 47 bench points compared to 22 by the Wildcats. Abilene Christian (8-11, 4-6 WAC), the No. 1 rebounding team in the WAC in terms of average rebound differential (plus-6.0), had a tied season low of 22 boards. The Texans sent the Wildcats to a fourth straight loss, a season long skid. The Texans meanwhile snapped a six game home losing streak. 

The Texans had three players in double figures. The leader for the Texans who secured her career high in scoring was Miannah Little. Little was unstoppable throughout the night tallying up 23 points, she went 6-of-11 from the floor, 3-of-4 from the arc, and was perfect from the free throw line (8-8). She surpassed her previous career high of 13 points set against Stephen F. Austin on Nov. 29. Jakoriah Long secured 16 points, 5-of-10 from the hardwood, adding six assists and three rebounds. Elise Turrubiates put up 12 points with 5-of-7 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the three-point line plus grabbed eight rebounds. This was her first double digit scoring game since Dec. 2, her fourth of the year.

“I’m so proud of the way we came out and played in the first quarter,” said head coach Bill Brock. “We made our run early and ACU answered in the second quarter. In the third and fourth quarters we controlled the game and did not allow them to go on extended scoring runs. Thought our rebounding and toughness in the fourth quarter was outstanding. Really proud our fans got to see this team play like they have been practicing. Now we have a quick turnaround for a Saturday game at SFA.” 

The first few minutes of the first quarter were slow, with no shot falling for either team. Long started the shooting rally with a fast break layup at the seven-minute mark. The Texans then went on an 9-0 run before the Wildcats got a shot to fall, not making a field goal until 3:36 left in the first. Turrubiates started the long ball game with back-to-back three pointers. Long and Little decided to join the fun and added more three pointers. Long put a dagger to end the quarter with a buzzer beater shot. Texans won the quarter 24-9.

The Wildcats found a groove and dropped 27 points compared to the Texans 15 for the second quarter. ACU outshot Tarleton 10-of-15 (.667) to 5-of-15 (.333). ACU erased a 16-point deficit, cutting it to just 3 at halftime 39-36. 

ACU got within one to start the third, but that would be as close as they’d get, as the Texans went on a 9-0 run before the Wildcats could make another basket. The downfall of the Wildcats was sending the Texans to the free throw line 10 times. Texans won this quarter 22-16 going 6-of-13 from inside the arc, 9-of-10 from the free throw line and clinched nine rebounds compared to the Wildcats’ six. 

The Wildcats were able to win the last quarter, but their late rally was not enough to overcome the Texans’ hot start.

ACU was led by Bella Earle’s 14 points, four assists and two steals. Two other Wildcats scored in the double figures with Meredith Mayes tallying 11 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Payton Hull tallied 10 points, two blocks, and six turnovers.  

The Texans will next head to Nacogdoches to take on the Ladyjacks Saturday at 2 p.m.

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