The TWU Pioneers’ shooting touch came and went during the second half against Abilene Christian on Wednesday, but a sluggish start at Kitty Magee Arena was their undoing in a 75-50 loss to the Wildcats.
Abilene Christian boasted three double-digit scorers, with Sadie Dickinson leading the way with 17 points. Center Kelsey Smith led the Wildcats with seven first-half points on her way to 13 for the game, and guard Mackenzie Lankford added 14 points.
After Abilene Christian (9-3, 5-2 Lone Star) called off its full-court press early in the game, the Wildcats focused their offensive efforts on the 3-point line, from which they shot 21.6 percent for the night.
“We can’t hang our heads,” TWU coach Beth Jillson said. “That’s what that team was all about — 3’s. They are going to go on runs; that’s normal. They can get hot really quick.
“We weren’t good defensively and we definitely weren’t good offensively. Nothing was working.”
The Pioneers (4-9, 2-5) opened the game with several turnovers, leading to 15 first-half points for the Wildcats. Abilene Christian jumped out to a 12-2 lead just 5:31 into the game, and TWU appeared stunned.
If the Pioneers had cut down on turnovers and missed layups, Jillson said, it could have been a completely different game.
“It just comes down to our mentality,” Jillson said. “We have to be mentally tough. I felt like they were more physical than us, and that was one of our goals.
“We weren’t aggressive. I thought we could have got to the free throw line more. We were quicker in certain positions and we tried to key in on that. We missed some wide-open layups, though. If we start the game and we hit those two easy layups, I think it’s a different story.”
TWU’s Ria Pateraki went 4-for-8 from the floor for 12 points to go with eight rebounds, but the Pioneers had trouble setting her in the post against the Wildcats’ bigger frontcourt. Tabbatha Thurmond also had 10 points, going 5-for-9, and had nine rebounds.
The rest of the Pioneers shot a combined 9-of-40 and turned the ball over 28 times.
Down 36-18 at halftime, the Pioneers couldn’t recover from the early hole they dug. Their deficit reached 27 points, and the Pioneers got no closer than 18 points in the second half.
“Even at halftime, we thought we could get back in it,” Jillson said. “We had 20 turnovers in the first half. We thought we could make it a 10-point game at the 10-minute mark, but it didn’t happen.”
The Pioneers will visit Angelo State (6-6, 3-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“This was a tough loss to take at home, so we have to regroup and stay positive,” Jillson said. “We need to get back to work at practice, and that’s where it starts. We just need for it to carry over into the games. We have a lot more fight in us.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .