Sophomore forward Ria Pateraki’s 17 points and eight rebounds helped guide the TWU Pioneers to a 62-44 victory in an exhibition game against Hardin-Simmons on Thursday night at Kitty Magee Arena.
“I just got in there and played hard,” Pateraki said. “I realized they didn’t have help-side [defense], so I was going straight to the rim. I started to see the perimeter as well as finding people running after I got rebounds. We picked the best shot based on their defense in the second half, when in the first half, we didn’t.”
The Pioneers built a 26-20 lead in the first half, despite only shooting 33 percent. But in the second half, the Pioneers were 12 of 25 from the field, including 4 of 9 on 3-pointers.
“I think this team is going to get better in time as they start to gel together,” TWU head coach Beth Jillson said. “We definitely have a long ways to go, but I like their mentality. They are working hard, and we are going to get there. Defensively, to hold a team to 20 points in the first half is pretty good, and we missed a lot of easy shots that would have really separated us.”
Pateraki was able to exploit the Hardin-Simmons defense with regularity in the second half, drawing several fouls, which she converted into six points from the free-throw line. Junior guards Rebekah Cluley, Rachel Schlosser and Tabbatha Thurmond each added eight points, with Thurmond also adding nine rebounds. Junior forward Kaitlyn Waller grabbed 12 rebounds.
“I think we have a lot of versatile players that can play a lot of different positions,” Jillson said. “The key for [us] has always been to get inside … because we can cause a lot of mismatches, [which] will cause a lot of problems for the other team.”
The Pioneers dominated the boards as they outrebounded the Cowgirls 53-24, including a 23-7 edge in the second half.
“That’s one of our goals is to be one of the best rebounding teams in the conference, so I was happy we were crashing the boards, especially with our shooting percentage not being too great tonight,” Jillson said. “To give ourselves second opportunities was good.”
TWU struggled a little with communication on the offensive end, which lead to 21 turnovers. However, Jillson said she was encouraged by her team’s grasp of the offensive system and recognized her team still has room for improvement.
“I thought we were forcing it a little bit too much in the first half, and we just turned the ball over too much. We have seven new players that are learning the system, and I was happy with their intensity. They played hard and they are going to get better and better.”
The Pioneers will officially open their season at Ouachita Baptist at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .