Saturday, March 12, 2011

TexAnns' luck runs out in Tahlequah

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The No. 20 Tarleton women’s basketball team faced off against No. 19 Northwest Missouri State in the second round of the South Central region tournament on Saturday night in Tahlequah, Oklahoma with the winner hoping to get a shot at a trip to the Elite Eight. Unfortunately for Tarleton, they would not pick up their second NCAA tournament win in as many days, falling to the Bearcats 77-61.

Both teams started off a little shaky with turnovers on the first possessions of the game. The TexAnns got on the board first though when Shelby Adamson tore through the lane for a wide-open layup. The Bearcats responded with a layup of their own, but Kiara Wright added another tough basket to put Tarleton ahead 4-2 early.

The TexAnns and Northwest Missouri St. attacked each other in similar fashion, going inside to their bigs early. Morgan Stehling hit a jumper at the free throw line and Kelsey Benford converted on a pair of free throws to put the TexAnns up 8-4 with 17:34 on the clock.

The Bearcats refused to go away though, getting the ball to their 6’5” center Kyla Roehrig for a rebuttal to Tarleton’s attack.

Entering the first media time out of the game, the TexAnns enjoyed a 12-8 lead.

Coming out of the break, NW Mo. St. jumped out to an 8-0 run, giving themselves a 16-12 advantage and forcing Tarleton head coach Ronnie Hearne to take a time out to regroup.

The time out did little to hamper the Bearcats’ offensive prowess though as Gabby Curtis single handedly pushed the run to 12-0 by the 11:24 mark.

Tarleton was getting good looks at the basket, but just were not able to get the shots to fall. With NW Mo. St.’s height advantage inside, it made it hard for the TexAnns to get second attempts on goal.

A put-back by Benford at the 9:58 mark ended a 5:35 scoring drought for Tarleton, as the TexAnns hoped it would spark something after trailing by eight.

As the clock ticked under 7:30 to play, Tarleton continued to struggle from the field, shooting just 28.6 percent, while NW Mo. St. enjoyed a 52.2 percentage from the floor.

The TexAnns tried everything they could to mount a run, but the combination of size and the Bearcats’ full-court press gave Tarleton troubles getting a flow offensively.

Kiara Wright managed to get back-to-back buckets for the TexAnns, but they still found themselves down by 12 points with 4:59 left in the first half.

A three-pointer by Sonya Sundberg and an old-fashioned three-point play by Wright cut the NW Mo. St. lead down to single digits entering the final media break of the half.

Tarleton was able to disrupt the Bearcat offense over the next few minutes as they attempted to chip away at the NW Mo. St. lead, but the TexAnns were unable to capitalize at the other end of the court.

Giving the trailing TexAnns a glimpse of hope, Tarleton mounted a six-point run to end the half, courtesy of a pair of Adamson free throws, a Stehling jumper, and a Sundberg runner.

The TexAnns went into half time down 39-32, but with momentum in their favor. Coach Hearne and his staff knew they were going to need to make some major adjustments if Tarleton was going to fully eclipse the seven-point deficit.

Through the first 20 minutes, the TexAnns shot 40 percent from the floor, but went just 1-of-7 from behind the arc. They also committed 14 turnovers and were out-rebounded 23-15.

Wright led Tarleton with nine points at the break, while Sundberg chipped in seven points.

The TexAnns really struggled to contain Roehrig from NW Mo. St., who had 14 points and 11 rebounds through the first period of play.

A crucial stat for Tarleton was the fact that they had zero points off the bench, who usually contributes a healthy portion of the TexAnn points.

Trailing 39-32 at the beginning of the second half, Tarleton came out of the gate running and gunning, cutting the lead to just five, 41-36. That would not last long though, as Roehrig would push the deficit back to 10 points with a couple of put-backs inside.

Adamson took it upon herself to lead the TexAnns back into the game, putting her body on the line with drives through the trees of NW Mo. St.

Tarleton came out of the first media time out of the second half down 48-40, but the game was far from out of hand for the TexAnns.

The Bearcats put a dagger in Tarleton’s hopes when Shelley Martin hit a three-pointer and the free throw for a four-point play and a 14-point difference.

With the clock ticking under 10:00, the TexAnns continued to trail by 10 points, despite efforts by Benford and Sundberg to narrow the margin.

As the two teams headed into the second to last media time out, Tarleton needed something to go their way if they were going to eclipse the 63-51 deficit.

Both the TexAnns and the Bearcats fell into a funk offensively, with neither team able to score for a two minute stretch.

Time started to become a factor for Tarleton, trailing 66-51 with just 6:13 remaining in the game.

The TexAnns put another spurt together on a Sundberg three and a Wright free throw, but once again, NW Mo. St. would halt the run before it got any bigger.

Tarleton suffered a major blow when Wright, the TexAnns leading scorer up to that point, fouled out of the game with 1:38 left in the game and Tarleton down by 15 points.

In the end, Tarleton was just unable to overcome the deficit and ended their 2010-11 campaign in Tahlequah, Oklahoma with a 77-61 loss to Northwest Missouri St.

Overall, the TexAnns shot 38.5 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line. They held NW Mo. St. to 46.7 percent from the field, but were out-rebounded 45-33.

Wright led Tarleton with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Adamson added 15 points and 11 boards. Sundberg finished her amazing career off at Tarleton with 16 points and five assists. Benford also went out in style with eight points, four rebounds and three assists.

Despite the loss, the TexAnns did make history this season with the school’s first ever Lone Star Conference South Division title and a historical 13-1 LSC South regular season record.

Coach Hearne was complimentary of his team after the game.
“I thought we fought hard, even when their lead was in double-digits,” said Hearne. “I am so proud of these girls for everything they have accomplished, especially our seniors Kelsey and Sonya. This has been a great group of girls to coach and I look forward to continue to work with the girls that will be here next year. I’d like to thank our fans for all their support this season and we really appreciate everyone who had an influence on TexAnn basketball.”

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