Women’s basketball shakes off NCAA tournament snub, dominates Prairie View A&M in WNIT opener

0
1052
Print Article
Guard Kianna Ray scored a game-high 19 points in the win for TCU. Photo by Heesoo Yang

Returning to the WNIT for the fifth time in the last six years with a resume capable of an NCAA Tournament bid, TCU women’s basketball used the snub as motivation.

“It kinda was like a chip on our shoulders,” center Jordan Moore said.  “Even though we’re playing Prairie View, we still have to go out and work hard and play and prove a point: that we are a good enough team to be into the NCAA tournament, but we are also good enough to go win the championship of the WNIT.”

This motivation was evident on Thursday as TCU routed Prairie View A&M 72-41 and advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season.

All 11 players on the active roster for TCU saw at least 10 minutes and scored in the blowout.

“Those players that don’t usually get to play a lot, and they come off the bench and they do their job,” Moore said.  “That’s just the greatest feeling: to be able to support them as much as they support us.”

Guard Kianna Ray got the Horned Frogs going early, hitting her first two shots from behind the arc on assists from guard Lauren Heard to give TCU an early lead.

Tight defense put the Horned Frogs up 12-6 midway through the first quarter, but they failed to make a field goal in the last 4:52 of the period and headed into the second tied with Prairie View A&M 13-13.

Looking to open the game up, Moore got going for the Horned Frogs in the second period. The senior punished the Panthers down low, starting the period on her own personal 6-0 run.

“I know that my teammates needed me to score,” Moore said. “We got the flow going on offense and defense.” 

TCU would end up blowing the game wide open with a 21-3 second quarter scoring advantage to take a 34-16 lead into halftime. The Horned Frogs were playing team basketball, as 13 of their first 14 made field goals had come off of assists.

“Keep working inside to shift the defense,” Moore said about the key to the big second quarter. “Make them move. Make them work.”

The comfortable lead came in part from suffocating play on the defensive end, with TCU holding Prairie View to 28 percent from the field.  The Big 12’s leader in turnovers forced (17.97 per game), the Horned Frogs totaled 15 takeaways in the first half alone.

“It wasn’t so much the on-ball D.  It was the off-ball D,” head coach Raegan Pebley said. “I think there was a collective mindset on that defensive end.”

TCU would cruise from there, going up 61-30 at the end of the third quarter. The lead never dipped lower than that in the fourth, reaching as much as 36 at one point.

It was a team effort for TCU on Thursday, as all 11 active players played at least 10 minutes. Photo by Heesoo Yang

Centers Moore and Yummy Morris combined for 24 points and 12 rebounds in the win. Ray added a game-high 19 points on five made three-pointers.

“I felt like Ryann [Payne] and Yummy [Morris] got better this week,” Pebley said. “To say that freshman are getting better in March is huge.”

The Horned Frogs forced 24 turnovers in the contest, scoring 29 points off of those takeaways. TCU had also outrebounded Prairie View A&M 41-35.

“This is that time of year when defense and rebounding have everything to do with the final result,” Pebley said. “The defense: I was proud of that effort today.”

Pebley is now 6-0 at home in the WNIT in her head coaching career. The women’s basketball team will be back at home for the second round of the WNIT at 2 p.m. Saturday against UT-Arlington.