When TWU skated out to a double-digit lead midway through the first half Saturday, it looked as if the Pioneers were well on their way to their second win.
But the Regis Rangers didn’t surrender easily and forced TWU to hit some clutch shots down the stretch to win its first game of the Marriott Champions Circle Pioneer Premiere 69-59 on Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena.
With the game tied at 46 midway through the second half, the Pioneers (2-2) snared the late lead with a 13-2 run. Freshman guard Kenesha Saygo penetrated the paint for eight points and Barbara-Scott Kolb’s 3-pointer put TWU in front 59-48.
“We started the game really well to go on the first run, and then we let them back in the game,” TWU coach Beth Jillson said. “Saygo was a good spark off the bench, and she came in and gave us some big penetration buckets. Then, when we moved B-Scott to [shooting guard] as well, she was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line. They both hit some big shots.”
Saygo’s 15 points off the bench were a team high for the Pioneers. Junior guards Kolb and Toree Mason each had 12 points and four assists, while Rebekah Cluley and Danielle Westerfield added 11 points apiece.
The Pioneers outscored the Rangers 40-20 in the paint and outrebounded them 42-36.
Taelor Purdy led all scorers with 18 points and sister Baylee had 16 for the visitors from Denver.
“Our guards probably had over half of those points in the paint just on penetration alone, and we really talked about that as being one of the keys,” Jillson said. “I thought Danielle was a great post presence inside for us. We got her the ball, and she made some big shots down the stretch.”
TWU grabbed a quick 10-3 lead behind eight points from Mason. The Pioneers led 18-8 after Westerfield’s post-up bucket and reached their biggest first-half lead at 23-10 with Kaitlyn Waller’s putback. The Rangers capped an 11-2 run with a steal and a fast-break layup to cut TWU’s lead to 25-21.
In the final minutes of the first half, Taelor Purdy’s seven-point burst helped the Rangers climb to within a point at 32-31.
Taelor Purdy had a half-high 12 points, while Mason led the Pioneers with 10 points.
The Rangers (0-1) cut TWU’s lead to 65-57 with 3:06 remaining, but the Pioneers’ defense stiffened and allowed just two points down the stretch.
TWU will face Central Oklahoma at 2 p.m. today, with the Bronchos coming off a 72-62 loss to Tarleton State in their Saturday game at the Pioneer Premiere.