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TWU notebook: TWU struggling to sync offense, defense

Profile image for By Randy Cummings
By Randy Cummings

One week into the basketball season, TWU coach Beth Jillson has seen the good, the bad and the frustrating.

Balanced scoring and a solid defensive effort led to a victory in the season opener, but last weekend’s stop at the TexAnn Tip-Off Classic at Tarleton State was, in Jillson’s words, “a tale of two games.”

In a Friday loss to Lubbock Christian, the Pioneers’ defense called in sick, which resulted in a 22-point loss while yielding 88 points. The next day, a healthy defensive effort couldn’t overcome struggles on the offensive end as TWU suffered a disappointing three-point loss to Fort Lewis.

“In our season opener we were very disciplined offensively,” Jillson said. “We did a good job running the floor, running the offense and taking high-percentage shots.

“Then against Lubbock Christian we struggled defensively. And against Fort Lewis it was just the opposite — we did a good job defensively and kind of struggled offensively. We had every opportunity to win that game and didn’t capitalize on it down the stretch.”

One positive is the Pioneers’ rebounding. TWU has outrebounded all three of its opponents. For the season, TWU holds a 132-112 edge in rebounds.

“One of the keys to almost every game is winning the rebounding battle,” Jillson said. “We’ve really emphasized it in practice. We want that mentality of crashing the boards every possession and giving ourselves second chances.

“We’ve done a good job,” she added, “but I think we can be great in that area.”

TWU to host Premiere

TWU will host its four-team Marriott Champions Circle Pioneer Premiere on Saturday and Sunday at Kitty Magee Arena.

The Pioneers will be joined by Central Oklahoma, Regis and Lone Star Conference member Tarleton State.

TWU will face Regis at 2:30 p.m. Saturday following the 12:30 p.m. opening game between Tarleton and UCO. On Sunday, Tarleton will play Regis at noon, followed by the Pioneers taking on the Bronchos at 2 p.m.


Pioneers finish second

TWU claimed second place in the Lone Star’s regular season over the weekend and will take its No. 2 seed for the LSC tournament into a first-round contest against Texas A&M-Kingsville at 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

The eight-team tournament is being hosted by regular-season champion West Texas A&M and will conclude Saturday with the final, which will determine the conference’s representative to the NCAA tournament.

If the Pioneers (21-9, 11-5 Lone Star) win their first-round match, they will advance to take on the winner between No. 3 Angelo State and No. 6 Midwestern State on Friday. Saturday’s championship match is set for 2 p.m.

TWU wrapped up the regular season Saturday by downing Eastern New Mexico in four sets. The win clinched second place and was a milestone victory for Shelly Barberee, who collected her 191st win as TWU’s head coach to tie Sandy Trout (1986-95) for the most career wins at the school.

All LSC tournament matches will be streamed live at

Alves, Rivero honored

TWU senior middle blocker Marcela Alves and junior setter Kayla Rivero were named Lone Star Conference players of the week for Nov. 12-18. Alves earned Offensive Player of the Week honors while Rivero was named Setter of Week.

Alves earned the honor for the third time this year. She posted 41 kills, a .360 hitting percentage and 19 total blocks. Alves had nine kills and four blocks in a nonconference match against Southeastern Oklahoma State, 16 kills and seven blocks against West Texas A&M and 16 kills and eight blocks against Eastern New Mexico.

Alves helped the Pioneers outblock West Texas A&M 14-8. Alves leads TWU with 267 kills, a .287 hitting percentage and 144 total blocks.

Rivero received the honor for fourth time this season. She ran a 6-2 offense and led the team with 68 assists (6.18 per set). Rivero twice posted 25 assists and 11 digs — against West Texas A&M and Eastern New Mexico — to record her 11th and 12th double-doubles of the season. She leads the Pioneers with 592 assists and is second in digs with 252.


Parra earns LSC honor

TWU senior midfielder Mariel Parra has been named to the Lone Star Conference All-Academic Team for her work in the classroom and on the field.

Parra, who was named second-team all-conference earlier this month, posted a 3.705 grade-point average. She is majoring in kinesiology.

Parra started 15 of 16 games, scoring one goal and recording one assist.