With 34 seconds left in the first half, TWU found itself charged with consecutive technical fouls — one against its bench and another to an assistant coach, who was ejected by officials.
The tenuous series of events ultimately gave Angelo State a one-point halftime lead. But it turned out to be the spark the Pioneers needed to ignite a dominant second half in which they scored 50 points en route to an 81-57 win Saturday at Kitty Magee Arena.
“I think the communication wasn’t good between the officials and our bench, but it fired us up because we were really angry about that [technicals],” said TWU head coach Beth Jillson, whose team outscored the Rambelles 50-25 in the second half. “I also knew Angelo State hadn’t lost a game yet this season where they led at halftime, but I didn’t tell the girls that. I knew we were capable of going on a run.”
The Pioneers (14-9, 9-4 Lone Star) struggled early, but a 12-4 run in the closing minutes of the first half gave them new life and a 28-23 lead. That’s when tempers flared as one of the referees called a technical against the TWU bench when the Pioneers complained about a no-call.
Before Angelo State (13-10, 7-6) could line up for its two free throws, TWU assistant coach Taylor High had a technical called against him and was ejected. The Rambelles made three of their four free throws, then got a 3-pointer from Amanda Weaver with two seconds left as part of a 9-3 run to close the half with a 32-31 lead.
“At first I thought the technical was on me and not the bench, and I wasn’t sure why the second one was called,” Jillson said. “It was not the right call to eject an assistant, but our girls played with the right motivation.”
At one point midway through the second half, TWU was shooting 81.8 percent from the field as it went on a 28-5 run to open the frame. The surge included 3-pointers from Toree Mason, Barbara-Scott Kolb and Rebekah Cluley. By the end of the surge, the Pioneers led 59-37 with 8:47 to play.
Kolb and Mary Kovtun led the Pioneers with 13 points apiece, but they were just two of 10 players to score for TWU. Ria Pateraki and Kenesha Saygo each poured in 10 points while Cluley chipped in with eight. Pateraki scored all of her points in the second half.
TWU was 8-of-15 from 3-point range, with Kolb connecting on four of her five attempts.
Angelo State was just 6-of-24 from long distance and finished the game shooting 27.4 percent from the field.
The Pioneers have won six in a row, nine of their last 10 and avenged last month’s seven-point loss to Angelo State.
“It’s hard for a team to guard us because we are so dynamic. Any one of us can score,” Kolb said. “We are capable of playing like that all the time. [The technicals] got us fired up, but we needed to stay composed and let it fuel us.”