In their final nonconference game of the season, the TWU Pioneers couldn’t extinguish an extended scoring run by St. Mary’s midway through the second half as they fell 62-51 at Kitty Magee Arena on Wednesday night.
After scoring seven points in the first half, Rattlers forward Morgan Pullins turned it on in the second half with 16 points to go along with eight rebounds for the game. Guard Lia Kioa and forward Mariah Lee both added 10 points each.
Forward Ria Pateraki led the Pioneers with 19 points and her three straight baskets helped TWU take a 35-32 lead early in the second half. However, the Rattlers (6-3) used a 12-0 run, with Pullins knocking down three straight buckets, to take a 44-35 lead.
After outscoring the Rattlers in the paint 12-10 in the first half, St. Mary’s established a better presence in the post as it finished with a 30-24 advantage to go along with 15 points off TWU’s 13 second-half turnovers.
“I think teams are going to go on runs,” TWU head coach Beth Jillson said.
“We went on a big run to end the first half, but we have to be able to execute offensively. We played our brains out defensively, but then we come down and turned the ball over or didn’t get a good shot. We don’t want to work that hard defensively to turn it over.”
The Pioneers, now 2-6 on the season, used 11 bench points and 11 points off turnovers to build a 27-25 halftime lead. Junior guard Taylor Swift led all scorers with 10 points at the half while Pateraki added nine points after again falling into early foul trouble with two fouls just 4:14 into the game.
“I thought Taylor was a big spark off the bench,” Jillson said. “She came in the game and I told the team at halftime that she was bad when she first came in. She had two turnovers, but she got her focus back and she regained her composure. She was great offensively. Defensively, she got two charges. She knocked down two 3s, was aggressive toward the basket, and I thought she really battled tonight.”
The game didn’t start ideally for TWU as the Rattlers jumped out to a 7-0 lead with back-to-back layups by Lee. After the Pioneers weathered the early storm, their defense settled in and started creating turnovers, which led to easy transition buckets.
TWU finished the half on a 6-1 run with Swift hitting a 3-pointer and two free throws to give the Pioneers their first lead of the game.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .