After falling just short of an upset win over No. 22 Emporia State on the road last week, the TWU basketball team is set to tip off Lone Star Conference play in Denton.
The Pioneers will take on Angelo State in their annual "Pack the House" game at 7 p.m. Thursday before facing off against Texas A&M-Kingsville at 2 p.m. Saturday.
TWU started last season's conference schedule with back-to-back road losses to Kingsville and ASU before going on a five-game winning streak. The Pioneers are looking to get off to a better start this time around.
"It's really important in this conference to defend your court anytime you play at home," TWU coach Beth Jillson said. "You need to win. We're excited to play on our home court at Pack the House."
After falling to Emporia State 88-81 over the weekend, TWU is hoping to get back on track defensively. The Pioneers allowed less than 59 points per game in their first four outings before foul trouble became an issue, allowing the Lady Hornets to have a big night offensively.
"We know defense has to be key for us," Jillson said. "To give up 59 points on average before that game is something we're really proud of and we need to get back to."
While the defense struggled at times against Emporia State, TWU got a lot of offensive production out of several players in the loss. Alexis Nezianya (21 points), Bri'anna Gray (19), Grace Mitchell (17) and Kara Mitchell (16) stepped up offensively despite finishing with at least four fouls.
Nezianya ranks third in the LSC, scoring an average of 14.4 points, and the Pioneers will need her production in the LSC portion of the schedule.
"I'm proud of their mental and physical toughness through the game," Jillson said. "We got a lot of big shots down the stretch. The multiple scoring threats we have is something we're going to need every single night."
The Belles entered the week with a 2-1 record after knocking off Oklahoma Christian and St. Mary's in convincing fashion. Their loss came in a one-point thriller against No. 14 Fort Lewis.
Meanwhile, the Javelinas were 3-4 and lost two straight to Oklahoma Christian and Fort Lewis. They have two wins over Texas A&M International and also defeated St. Mary's.
"I feel really good about where we're at," Jillson said. "The strength of our schedule has prepared us for conference play. We haven't had any easy games. Every night has been a battle, and we know that's how conference play is going to be."
Martin adds to postseason accolades
Senior Chelsea Martin, who led TWU with seven goals and was second with six assists this season, was named to the All-South Central Region third team by the United Soccer Coaches on Tuesday afternoon.
Martin was announced as a All-South Central first-team selection by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association earlier this month. She was the Edward Jones Pioneer Student-Athlete of the Month for October.
Martin, who transferred to TWU after initially playing at Northeastern State, started 34 games in two years for the Pioneers.