TCU women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie knows his team is inexperienced.
“We’re so young that we’re just trying to get to practice tomorrow and figure that out,” he said.
But that youth was in the Frogs’ favor Wednesday as they beat Dallas-Fort Worth rival SMU—a team who was 5-1 coming in—76-70.
Freshman point guard Zahna Medley scored all 27 of her points on a school-record-tying nine 3-pointers and junior center Latricia Lovings grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked five shots in the game, despite facing foul trouble most of the game.
Lovings said she was determined, even though she picked up her fourth foul mid-way through the second half.
It was a rivalry game, after all.
“I came in with a chip on my shoulder,” she said.
Lovings committed her third foul at the 13-minute mark, but Mittie kept her in the game. At that point, she was the Frogs’ most productive post player in the game with seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
She said her determination is fueled by last season’s loss to the Mustangs in Dallas, which she called “heartbreaking.”
After a close first half in which SMU led 35-34, the Mustangs opened the second half with a three-quarter-court trapping press defense, which led to some midcourt confusion for TCU.
SMU also used its quickness to harass shooting guard Natalie Ventress, TCU’s leading scorer coming into the game at more than 16 points per game.
But Medley answered the call when needed, which even surprised Mittie.
“When I grabbed the stat sheet, I was shocked to see she had nine (threes) tonight,” he said. “We’ve seen her hit six or seven in scrimmage, but nine is good for anybody.”
Medley made her fifth three-pointer of the night early in the second half, but the Mustangs answered with back-to-back threes from Korina Baker, which gave them a 50-43 lead.
Baker’s perimeter shooting, Alisha Filmore’s midrange shooting and Akil Simpson’s post play led a balanced offense for SMU.
The Mustangs had not allowed more than 70 points all season.
TCU cut the lead to 54-51 after another Medley three with 14 minutes left in the half.
From there, the teams exchanged leads for most of the half until TCU pulled away behind Lovings’ offensive rebounding and Medley’s shooting.
Lovings and Mittie said tonight was the best game the young team has played this season, due in large part to some offensive adjustments.
Mittie said he installed the new sets out of timeouts, which caught the Mustangs off guard—literally.
“When we went to these new sets, we were able to get them inside the (three-point) arc,” he said.
That defensive shift allowed Medley and other guards to penetrate and pass to their post players.
“This young group is learning to play more possessions,” Mittie said.
And even with Lovings’ dominant post play, Mittie said she could have had more blocks and rebounds if SMU’s Simpson hadn’t brought her away from the rim with her faceup game.
Looking forward, Mittie said inexperience is going to be the theme for a while.
“My guess is our group doesn’t even know who we play Sunday,” he said jokingly.
The Frogs play Houston on Sunday at 3 p.m. at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum.