Denton native and former Krum standout Kirsti Degelia had quite the homecoming against TWU on Wednesday as she went 11-of-12 from the free throw line on the way to a game-high 25 points, helping Midwestern State to a 67-53 victory at Kitty Magee Arena.
“We battled,” TWU coach Beth Jillson said. “We played hard, but we had some mental lapses we can’t have. We will play at a high level for a couple minutes and then drop off for the next few minutes. We have to be able to sustain the intensity and energy.”
The Mustangs (12-3, 7-2 Lone Star) had two other players in double figures. Andrea Carter posted a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Shatoia Gober had 10 points and eight rebounds.
The Pioneers were led by Toree Mason’s 17 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting. She hit six of seven free throws.
“It was a big game tonight and a lot of people came out to support us,” Mason said of the season-high attendance of 1,087. “I was wanting to give them a good show, but it was just too bad we couldn’t get the win tonight. They knocked down shots. They got offensive rebounds and got a lot of quick buckets. Down the stretch they built the lead, and unfortunately the time ran out on us.”
TWU’s Tabbatha Thurmond went 5 of 9 from the field on the way to 11 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Both teams shot under 31 percent from the floor in the first half as the Mustangs entered the break with a 27-22 lead. TWU was down 26-15 with 2:42 remaining before Mason sparked a 7-1 run to help give the Pioneers some much-needed momentum.
“I thought she did a really good job looking for her shot,” Jillson said of Mason. “I thought she even turned down some good looks she could have taken. She was aggressive getting to the rim and she got to the free-throw line. The great thing about Toree is that she will never back down.”
Both teams upped their offensive game, and the Mustangs shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half.
The Pioneers (5-10, 3-6) shot 42.3 percent in the second half but had trouble scoring inside and were forced into more outside shoots than they wanted.
After she hit 8 of 8 free throws on the way to 12 first-half points, Degelia’s 3-pointer gave the Mustangs a 38-27 advantage five minutes into the second half.
“I thought she stepped up and made two good shots,” Jillson said. “Obviously, we knew she was a shooter, but we were going over ball screens and we had a hand in her face.”
After TWU clawed back to within 40-35 on Mason’s two free throws, Degelia delivered her second 3-pointer midway through the half to restore Midwestern State’s 11-point lead at 48-37.
The Mustangs continued to execute on offense while stopping the Pioneers inside.
“For the last eight minutes of the game, we let them do whatever offensively as far as getting to the rim,” Jillson said. “We didn’t have good rotation. I thought we should have taken more charges and given more help to take away layups. They really broke down our defense.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .