The TWU Pioneers are still finding their way in the Lone Star Conference after a 72-60 loss Saturday to defending league champion Tarleton State.
After Toree Mason’s jumper put the Pioneers ahead 9-8, the TexAnns went on a 25-10 run to take a commanding 33-19 lead.
With solid defense and passing, TWU (2-5, 0-2 Lone Star) responded with a 15-2 run of its own, including a 9-0 burst to send the Pioneers into halftime down just 35-32.
“I thought we battled hard and kept our poise when they went on their runs,” TWU coach Beth Jillson said. “We talked about not allowing that. We had some defensive breakdowns, and we need to step up and make free throws. I was proud that we battled back and we only had 14 turnovers, which is a step in the right direction.”
Center Mary Kovtun’s jumper pulled TWU within 43-42 with 15:35 remaining, but the TexAnns (3-2, 1-0) poured on a 19-0 spurt to take a 62-42 lead they would not relinquish.
“They shot the ball better and they made some big 3s down the stretch,” Jillson said. “We make our free throws and make some of those easy shots that we missed, we are in the game. I think our defense has to be consistent. We battled back, but that takes a lot of the energy out of you.”
Center Kiara Wright led the TexAnns with 22 points and 17 rebounds. Guard Peyton Adamson, the TexAnns’ leading scorer with 18 points per game going into Saturday, scored 13 points. Shanae Lowrance added 11 points.
The TexAnns outscored the Pioneers 36-20 in the paint, with 16 second-chance points off 14 offensive rebounds. They shot consistently in both halves and finished at 46.7 percent from the floor.
“She’s [Wright] their go-to player,” Jillson said. “She and [Adamson] usually score half their points. We didn’t do a good job on her boxing out, and I thought we sometimes gambled. We can’t gamble and give her easy layups. We talked about that a lot. You need to play behind and get a hand in her face before you gamble and give up wide-open layups.”
TWU forward Ria Pateraki posted her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. She had eight points in the first half, but her playing time was limited by early foul trouble.
“I had to run and try to fight and play hard for my team,” Pateraki said. “I knew we had to get this win. I thought their post players were good. We knew it from the beginning.”
The Pioneers’ guard play was highlighted by Mason’s 14 points, and Rebekah Cluley added 12 points and seven rebounds.
“Rebekah really stepped up,” Jillson said. “She’s usually the point guard, and I put her at the 4-spot tonight. The ball had to go through her for ball reversal, and I thought she did a great job being aggressive getting to the rim. She also got her teammates involved. Of course, Toree was huge. She hit some big shots.”
The Pioneers will host St. Mary’s on Wednesday for their final nonconference game. St. Mary’s defeated Tarleton State 77-56 on Wednesday.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is email@example.com.