Thomas, TexAnns Upset No.20 Midwestern State
By Travis M. Smith
STEPHENVILLE – The (9-3, 3-1) Tarleton State University TexAnns are beginning to make some noise in the Lone Star Conference after upsetting No. 20 (13-2, 4-1) Midwestern State University on Wednesday night at Wisdom Gym.
Kathy Thomas and Ikpeaku Iwobi continued their dominance on both ends of the court. A Thomas steal of an MSU inbound with 48 seconds left, gave the TexAnns the last lead they would need. The steal may have been the biggest of her TexAnn career to this point.
“Probably was. I love beating Midwestern,” Thomas said, “I saw that they kind of threw it out there and I was like I have to go get this ball. Coach always says that when it’s a loose ball to grab it, don’t look at anything, just grab it.”
Midwestern State’s Whitney Taylor traveled after receiving the inbounds, and a pair of Wipff free throws sealed the upset. Tarleton State handed the No. 20 Midwestern State Mustangs its first LSC loss of the year and snapped its 12 game win streak.
Thomas led all scorers for the second straight contest with 19 points, 8 of those coming in the closing minutes of the second half. She has been the closer for the TexAnns all season and tonight was no different.
“I just take what the defense gives me,” Thomas said, “and Midwestern was kind of giving me the basket. I knew Carter had 3 fouls and coach told us at halftime that if we attacked her she wouldn’t foul. I just took what they gave me.”
Iwobi had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and for the second straight game carded a double-double. Seven different TexAnns scored, including 9 from Wipff and 8 from Karli Moore.
The TexAnns have now won 17 of 21 contest against the Mustangs since the 2005-06 season, and pulled a game closer in the longest and most storied rivalry in TSU history. Midwestern currently leads the all-time series 32-27.
Tarleton State will go be on the road for Saturday’s conference tilt against the Aggies of Cameron. The game is set for a 2 p.m. tip in Lawton, OK in Aggie Gym.
The Mustangs won the opening tip, but Kathy Thomas stole a Shambreka Jones pass and took it coast-to-coast for the first two points of the game. After a Mustang free throw, Thomas hit the first triple of the contest and the TexAnns jumped out to a 5-1 lead less than a minute into the LSC showdown. The TexAnns opened 5 of 6 from the field, including 2-2 from three, and built a 12-6 advantage with just 3:27 off the clock.
Midwestern State put together a quick 8-0 run and took a 14-12 lead over TSU. Iwobi halted the skid on the offensive end with a tip-in from the low block. Another defensive stand led to Morgan Ashmore’s first bucket of the game and the TexAnns reclaimed a 2-point advantage, 16-14 with 11:27 left in the opening half.
Through the first 14:48 of the contest, the Mustangs had 14 free throws before the TexAnns were able to toe the stripe for the first time. Bailey Wipff knocked down the first two opportunities for TSU and pulled the TexAnns to within 2, 26-24.
Thomas reached double-digit scoring for the 9th straight game and 10th time this season with a lay-up out of a TexAnn timeout. Dianna Jones converted an and-1 for MSU on its next possession. The 20th ranked and LSC leading Midwestern State Mustangs took a 33-28 lead over the Tarleton State TexAnns into the locker room.
Thomas led all scorers with 11 points, and Iwobi was well on her way to her second consecutive double-double with 6 points on 3 of 5 shooting and 7 rebounds. The only offensive category where there was any separation was the 15 MSU free throw attempts to the TSU 5.
The first 5 minutes of the second half saw both teams score five points each. Thomas’ pick pocket of a Mustang ball handler lead to a Karli Moore basket. This season, the TexAnns are 7-1 when Meagan O’Dell hits at least one shot from beyond the arch and on the ensuing the TSU possession she found one. The TexAnns pulled to within 2, 40-38, of No. 20 MSU with 13:29 left to play.
Morgan Ashmore moved into sole possession of 13th place on the all-time TexAnn assist list when her 215th career dish led to an Iwobi lay-up to knot the game at 40. Thomas found her second triple and TSU had its first lead of the second half with under 10 minutes to play, 43-42.
Moore knocked down the first TSU free throw of the half and tied the game for the sixth time. After grabbing both her 10th rebound and second consecutive double-double, Iwobi hit a 14-foot jumper and gave the TexAnns yet another 2-point lead. Thomas drove for two more points and TSU led 50-46 and was 4:26 from handing MSU its first LSC loss.
McGrath and Carter traded baskets with under 4 minutes to play. Bailey Wipff grabbed a rebound and put in a backwards, no-look shot from the low block to extend the TexAnn lead back to 4 points.
Midwestern converted 4 of their 6 free throw attempts and tied the game at 54. Thomas continued her hot second half streak and scored on a hard drive to reclaim a slim 2-point lead. The TexAnns led 56-54 with 1:54 to play.
A TexAnn shot clock violation was quickly negated by a Thomas steal of the inbounds pass and Iwobi scored 2 more points from the low block to give the TexAnns a 58-56 lead with 38 ticks to play.
Thomas’ 19th point of the contest on a free throw with 13 second remaining made it a 3-point game, 59-56. The TexAnns held on to a 61-56 victory.