WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: UTPB holds off Texas Woman’s University

The UTPB women’s basketball team started the first and second quarters against Texas Woman’s University on fire defensively, pressuring all over the court, trapping in the corners and forcing turnovers.

The Falcons were too aggressive at times and as a result, the visiting Pioneers erased early deficits at the free throw line to lead by two points at halftime.

UTPB went into the locker room needing to find a way to continue the pressure, but with more discipline to keep the visitors from scoring with the clock stopped.

Now, the Falcons need to find a way to duplicate the changes moving forward.

Opening the second half with a run to regain control, fueled again by the defensive effort the length of the court, UTPB caught, passed and held on to defeat the Pioneers 64-59 in Lone Star Conference play Friday at the Falcon Dome.

It is the first victory for the Falcons (4-7 overall, 3-7 in conference) against Texas Woman’s since Dec. 6, 2014.

Nokia White had a game-high 19 points to lead UTPB, with Morgan Helgesen adding 11 points off the bench.

“The free throw situation that the half, they were 8-for-10 and we were 1-for-2,” UTPB women’s coach Rae Boothe said. “I thought we responded really well in the second half.

“Think we did a phenomenal job just working super hard for a majority of the game. This probably the most complete game we had with effort.”

Jordan Jenkins had 15 points to lead the Pioneers (1-4), with Kendall Lentz adding 11 in the loss. The teams are schedule to complete their two-game series at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Falcon Dome.

The Falcon led for much of the first half, taking a five-point lead after one quarter (11-6), only to watch Texas Woman’s slowly work its way back into the game.

Finally, with 1:52 to play in the first half, the Pioneers tied the game, 18-18, and then took the lead on a 3-pointer on their next trip down the court. They outscored UTPB 6-2 over the final 112 seconds for a 22-20 lead at the break.

UTPB returned the favor to start the third quarter, scoring the first six points for a quick four-point lead before extending the margin to 11 (39-28) on a trio of free throws by Helgesen after she was fouled on 3-point attempt.

Texas Woman’s did pull within three, 45-42, early in the fourth quarter but never caught UTPB the rest of the way.