After the Western New Mexico University women’s basketball team jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first quarter, it would end up being a tight back-and-forth game after that. Texas Woman’s University came back and were able to make a couple key plays down the stretch to take the 60-55 Lone Star Conference victory Saturday afternoon inside Drag’s Court.
A trio of Lady Mustangs (0-14, 0-6 LSC) put together big games with junior Ciara Fields going for a game-high 18 points, while adding three rebounds and three steals. Senior Jade Botelho went for a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and junior Takiyah Lopez chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and both an assist and steal. Senior Melody McLaughlin and freshman Rachel Francisco had three assists apiece.
It was a slow it down, half court type of game with each team only scoring two fastbreak points. TWU (6-6, 3-3 LSC) took advantage of their size inside to put up a 32-14 points in the paint edge and also converting turnovers into a 16-8 advantage.
WNMU came out firing at the start racing out to a 5-0 lead with Lopez hitting a pair from the line and Francisco dialing long distance. Following two free throws from the Pioneers, WNMU went on another run, this one a 7-0 spurt to move out to their largest lead of 10. Francisco started things with a jumper and after freshman Jenika Padilla drained a three-pointer, Botelho closed the run with a jumper in the paint for the 12-2 lead late in the first quarter.
TWU clawed their way back in, finishing the final three minutes of the quarter on a 10-3 run to leave WNMU in front 15-12.
The Lady Mustangs responded to start the second quarter as they had the lead back at 10 with Fields hitting a jumper in the paint and after Botelho hit her jumper at the 7:29 mark it was 24-14 in favor of WNMU.
Just when everything was going the way the Lady Mustangs wanted, the Pioneers went on a lengthy 12-0 run to erase the deficit and take their first lead of the game at 26-24 with two minutes to go before the break.
Fields hit a three-pointer to snap the run and Kameron Daily closed the scoring with a jumper for TWU to give the Pioneers a 28-27 lead at halftime.
Desiree Phipps opened the scoring for TWU 11 seconds into the second half to move the Pioneers out to their largest lead at the time of four. The teams would then continue to trade baskets, with WNMU moving back in front with 4:25 to go when Fields converted a three-point-play for a 41-39 lead.
Lopez extended the lead to three with a minute to go in the third when she drained a three-pointer and after KJ Stastny hit a jumper in the paint for TWU, it was a one-point WNMU lead entering the final frame.
The first nine baskets of the fourth quarter alternated leads between the teams, as a jumper by Alexis Nezianya pushed TWU ahead 56-55 with 1:21 to play. She was also fouled on the play and after missing the free throw, the Pioneers kept possession before missing a three as the shot clock expired. That left WNMU with 50 seconds down one. The Lady Mustangs took a timeout, but out of the break, the in-bounds pass was stolen on a jump ball. TWU ran down the clock and went to the speedy Bri’Anna Gray who broke loose for a jumper in the paint to stretch the lead to three with 21 seconds to play.
WNMU looked to go quick for a two-point shot, but another turnover on a pass near the sidelines gave the ball back to the Pioneers with 13 seconds to play. WNMU was then forced to foul and Cienna Rodriguez hit both shots to seal the win for TWU.
Rodriguez and Gray led the Pioneers with 11 points apiece, Nezianya just missed a double-double with eight points and 12 rebounds. Gray and Nezianya also sent back a pair of blocks.
TWU made 23-53 (43) from the field, 6-15 (40) from three and 8-17 (47) at the foul line. WNMU answered making 18-55 (33) from the field, 7-21 (33) from three and 12-15 (80) at the foul line. Both teams hit the offensive glass hard with WNMU grabbing 15 to 11 for TWU.
WNMU will now hit the road this coming week when they will play at Midwestern State on Thursday starting at 5:30 p.m. Central Time. They will close the road swing on Saturday at Cameron starting at 2 p.m. Central Time.