EMPORIA, Kan. -- Alexis Nezianya scored 21 points and Bri'anna Gray posted 19 for TWU in career-high performances, but the Pioneers fell 88-81 at No. 22 Emporia State on Saturday afternoon at White Auditorium.
TWU (3-2) erased a 14-point third-quarter deficit to tie game at 80 on a layup by Nezianya with 1:22 remaining, but ESU (3-2) then hit eight straight free throws for the nonconference victory.
TWU's Grace Mitchell and Kara Mitchell joined Nezianya and Gray in double figures with 17 and 16 points, respectively. KJ Stastny and Cienna Rodriguez each handed out six assists.
The Pioneers had difficulty containing Tyra Jones of ESU, who scored a game-high 34 points on a 9-of-10 showing from the field and a 16-of-22 performance from the free throw line while adding 11 rebounds.
The Pioneers fell behind 7-2 before tying the game at 13 on a layup by Gray. Six straight Lady Hornet points put the home team up 21-15 to close the first quarter.
A 3-pointer by ESU midway through the second period handed the Lady Hornets a 35-26 advantage, but a Gray 3 and layup by Grace Mitchell cut the margin to 35-31 one minute later. ESU again built a nine-point lead with less than two minutes to play in the first half, but TWU closed with a 7-2 run to pull within 44-40 at the break.
The Lady Hornets began the third quarter with a layup eight seconds in and stretched the lead to double digits at 50-40. A conventional three-point play by ESU gave the Lady Hornets a 56-42 advantage before two free throws and a bucket by Nezianya along with a layup by Kara Mitchell lessened the deficit to 56-48 with 5:34 left in the quarter. The Lady Hornets scored the final field goal of the period with 41 seconds remaining for a 69-58 lead.
The Pioneers will host their first Lone Star Conference game of the season in a contest against Angelo State at 7 p.m. Thursday.