In their second game of the 2012 Marriot Champions Circle Pioneer Premiere, the TWU Pioneers hung tough through the first half but fell short offensively in the second half as they lost to Central Oklahoma 59-35 on Sunday at Kitty Magee Arena.
“I thought our shot selection wasn’t great,” TWU head coach Beth Jillson said. “We hit some quick shots in transition, but I felt like we could have gotten better shots. They missed a whole lot as well, but defensively we didn’t get back and match up. We left their shooters wide open, and it really hurt us in the second half when they started making their shots.”
The Bronchos had three players score in double digits, with junior guard Jill Bryan leading the way with 12 points. She also had a team-high nine rebounds. Senior forward Alyssa Fuxa added 11 points and seven rebounds, while freshman forward Whitney Dunn had 10 points.
Defensively, UCO kept TWU (2-1) out of the paint for the most part, limiting sophomore forward Ria Pateraki, who had 11 points against Texas A&M-International in TWU’s 73-56 victory, to only four points on 2-of-7 shooting. The Bronchos also forced TWU into 24 turnovers, compared to 17 against A&M.
“We did not do a good job of handling their pressure,” Jillson said. “We couldn’t get ball reversal. In an offense, if you can’t get ball reversal, you have a hard time getting shots. We’ve struggled with that before, so we’ve got to get better at setting screens. The most disappointing thing was that we only had four assists, which means we weren’t playing team basketball.”
After taking a 26-22 lead in the first half, Whitney scored the first three baskets of the second half for the Bronchos as they took a 32-22 lead. The Pioneers cut it 36-31 with 8:38 remaining, but UCO answered with a 14-0 run that put the lead out of reach.
“We weren’t used to that pressure, so our offense was scattered a bit,” sophomore guard Toree Mason said. “We needed to slow down and wait for our post players to post up. They were pressuring pretty hard, so I just took it to the basket. We needed buckets. We are definitely going to have some drills so we can handle the pressure.”
Mason was the Pioneers’ leading scorer with 16 points, but the rest of the TWU offense struggled to get things going. TWU shot just under 25 percent from the floor for the game, including just over 14 percent in the second half, while being outrebounded 43-36.
“Practice every day will help and having that intensity in practice as the game will help,” Jillson said. “Our leadership will step up, and I thought Toree did a great job tonight stepping up. I heard her voice and saw in her actions. Our team has to keep their poise and composure. I know that we are still getting to learn each other, but we will get more confidence.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .