Women’s basketball defeats UTA in Round 2 of WNIT, 71-52

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Amy Okonkwo led the Horned Frogs with 19 points in their WNIT second round victory over UTA. Photo by Heesoo Yang.

After allowing UT Arlington to cut a 17-point lead to just four late in the third quarter, TCU women’s basketball dominated the fourth quarter to defeat the Mavericks 71-52 in round two of the WNIT.

“It was important that we played hard this game,” center Jordan Moore said. “I think when we get in the huddles and everything, we talk to each other like if we’re going to get punched, we’re going to punch back.”

The first quarter was fast-paced, with the Horned Frogs looking to score in the first half of the shot clock on most possessions. This strategy translated to powerful offense, as TCU shot 50 percent from the field in the period.

“Trying to [not] allow Arlington to find a rhythm and comfort,” head coach Raegan Pebley said of her goal for their early fast pace.

On the other side of the ball, the Horned Frogs looked to prevent UTA from getting comfortable on offense by pressing full court and trapping the Maverick guards after they crossed half court. This intense defense caused UTA to make just four field goals in the opening quarter and helped maintain a 20-10 lead for TCU going into the second.

The game slowed down in the second quarter, as the two teams went to work in the half court. The Mavericks pulled within seven points at one moment, but the Horned Frogs were able to respond each time they put together a run.

Despite shooting 11 percent from deep in the first half, TCU led 35-20 going into the halftime break. With a combined 16 points, Moore and forward Amy Okonkwo led the way for the Horned Frogs.

Moore finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in the contest.

UTA came out swinging in the second half. After shooting 20 percent from the field in the first half, the Mavericks shot 50 percent as a team in the third quarter. 

A 9-3 run for UTA deep into the period slimmed TCU’s lead to just four with 1:33 left; however, two late baskets for the Horned Frogs gave them a 51-43 lead heading into the fourth.

Guard Cierra Johnson was instrumental for the Mavericks in their late push. The Sun Belt Conference MVP scored 14 of her game-high 23 points in just the third quarter.

“To be honest, I was just playing,” Johnson said. “There wasn’t really much running through my head besides ‘We just have to fight.’”

The Horned Frogs seemed unrattled by the Maverick’s surge as they took control in the fourth quarter. Okonkwo and guard Lauren Heard lead TCU on a 18-4 run to start the final period, blowing the game wide open and putting the nail in the coffin for UTA.

“We just re-focused,” Moore said about TCU’s response to the UTA run. “We knew what we were supposed to do and how we were supposed to do it.”

A strong defensive effort in the fourth quarter by TCU propelled them to their 22nd victory of the season. Photo by Heesoo Yang

During that time, Okonkwo scored eight of her team-high 19 points for the game. 

“I think my teammates do a great job of finding me in those open positions,” Okonkwo said of her versatility. “I just do whatever I can.”

For the second-straight game, all 11 players on TCU’s active roster were able to play.

The win was TCU’s 16th at home this season and marks a school record. The Frogs also improved to 22-10 on the season, giving them back-to-back seasons with 22 wins for the third time in program history.

The Horned Frogs will face the winner of the Arkansas and UAB game in the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Time and location for round three will depend on the outcome of that game.