CANYON -- Cienna Rodriguez scored a season-high 11 points for TWU and Whitney Apari added 13 as the Pioneers played No. 4 West Texas A&M close throughout the first half, but the Lady Buffs forced 16 turnovers in the final two quarters in an 81-61 Pioneer loss Thursday at First United Bank Center.
TWU (4-4, 1-2 Lone Star) shot 46 percent from the field but was outdone by West Texas' 52 percent. The Lady Buffs (9-0, 4-0) outrebounded the Pioneers 35-27 and collected 16 steals, the most given up by TWU this season, and forced a season-high 27 Pioneer turnovers.
Bri'anna Gray notched the first field goal for the Pioneers on a reverse layup, and a jumper from the right elbow by Grace Mitchell kept TWU within a point at 8-7. Desiree Phipps drained a 3 from the right wing after checking in, and a 3-pointer from the left baseline by Rodriguez tied the score at 13 with just over two minutes to play in the opening period. The Lady Buffs ended the quarter on a 9-2 run for a 22-15 advantage.
In the second quarter, Kameron Daily sank a jumper to pull the Pioneers within 30-21 midway through the period. A short corner floater by Gray made it 33-25, and another 3 by Rodriguez from the left baseline on a kickout from KJ Stastny closed the margin to 35-26. The Lady Buffs hit a layup as time expired for a 37-29 lead at halftime.
The Pioneers were held without a field goal for over four minutes to start the second half as West Texas opened a 50-33 lead. Apari made two buckets in the paint and Ma'K'La Woods added another to trim to deficit to 50-39 at the 3:38 mark. TWU was unable to convert another basket in the quarter and trailed 59-41 heading to the fourth.
The offense improved for the Pioneers in the fourth, as the team totaled 20 points throughout the 10 minutes, including six straight free throws -- four from Apari and two from Rodriguez.
"We came out flat in the second half and our effort and intensity did not match theirs," TWU coach Beth Jillson said. "We have a quick turnaround and need to learn from it and respond against a good UTPB team."
The Pioneers will visit Texas-Permian Basin at 2 p.m. Saturday.