Women’s basketball advances after holding off SFA

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    In front of a loud crowd at the TCU Recreational Center, the Horned Frogs advanced to the second round of the NIT for the first time since 2008.

    TCU (18-13) was able to hold off Stephen F. Austin (23-8) by a final score of 85-80.

    The Frogs’ offensive attack on Thursday night was both effective and balanced.

    TCU shot 46.7 percent from the field, 38.1 percent from 3-point range and 80.8 percent from the free-throw line.

    SFA did not have an answer for TCU guard Chelsea Prince in the first half. She scored 19 points, including a couple big 3-pointers to close out the opening period of play. Prince went 5-8 from 3-point range against the Jacks. The junior’s four steals on the night broke Rachel Hesse’s school record for most steals in a season.

    “I don’t know what happened tonight,” Prince said. “I was just playing. I’m not going to say I had any fire in me – coach told me I need to come out like I play on defense like I play on offense. I just came out hard on both.”

    In the second half, sophomores Jada Butts and Veja Hamilton led the way for the Frogs as they shot a combined 16-23 (69.5 percent) from the field. Both women racked up 21 points.

    TCU was also able to effectively utilize the full-court press on defense. The Horned Frogs had 12 steals while the Jacks turned the ball over 24 times.

    But TCU couldn’t contain center Porsha Roberts, who SFA head coach Brandon Schneider said was one of the top-5 best players to ever play for the Jacks.

    Roberts totaled 35 points and 11 points against the Frogs.

    TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said Roberts is one of those players coaches dream to have on their team, but is a nightmare to coach against.

    “She’s got great hands, she finishes over a 60 percent rate on the year, she positions herself very well, she makes free throws and she has guards who are very patient at getting her the ball,” said Pebley.

    Though Roberts was able to keep the Jacks within striking distance for most of the game, the Frogs only surrendered their lead once, for 33 seconds, in the first minute of the game.

    TCU went on a 14-1 run that ended with 9:17 left in the first half to put the Frogs up 25-13.

    At the end of the first half, Prince drained two 3-pointers, then with one second left on the clock, she swatted an inbounds pass underneath SFA’s basket and collected the ball and put it through the net. But the officials reviewed the basket while both teams headed to the locker room for halftime and then deemed the basket to be no good. The Frogs led at the half 46-31.

    In the second half, SFA made things interesting. The Jacks were able to hold TCU scoreless for 3:15 midway through the half, cutting the Frogs lead to as little as six points.

    But the Frogs were able to keep the Jacks from threatening to ever take the lead up until the final minutes of the game when Roberts made a tip-in basket and Tierany Henderson made a 3-pointer to cut the Frogs’ lead to four.

    But TCU was able to make most of its free throws down the final stretch and hold on for the victory. The win allows the Frogs to advance to the second round of the NIT, where they will take on Southern Miss in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on Sunday.

    Pebley said Thursday’s game was a survive and advance scenario. She said she talked to her team about getting rid of the status quo when it comes to the team’s recent history in the postseason.

    “There hasn’t been a class while they’ve been here that’s advanced in the postseason,” she said. “That’s something they really wanted to do and get back to that postseason success tradition of TCU women’s basketball.”