The UT Tyler women’s basketball team entered Thursday night’s game against UT Dallas knowing they needed a win. And thanks to 53 percent shooting and tight defense, the Patriots earned a 68-54 victory over the Comets at the Herrington Patriot Center.
Melissa Thomas, the fifth-year senior, led the Patriots with 25 points on 9 of 15 shooting. Ally Allen followed, hitting all five of her shots from the floor and recorded 11 points.
“It was my second to last home game, so I went out and played aggressive,” Thomas said.
The win for the Patriots keep them in the hunt for the fourth and final playoff spot in the American Southwest Conference East Division with an 8-11 ASC record. They are up against LeTourneau and the Ozarks, who comes to town Saturday, for the last berth.
LeTourneau is fourth with 9-10 mark, while the Patriots are tied with Ozarks. LeTourneau plays host to UT Dallas on Saturday.
The Patriot men’s team dropped a 64-54 decision in the nightcap, making Saturday’s game against Ozarks a must win. The Patriots are 6-13 in the league and tied with Ozarks. Mississippi College is just ahead of the pair in fourth place at 6-12. MC plays host to East Texas Baptist on Saturday and plays at Louisiana College on Monday.
The contest saw eight lead changes in the first eight minutes. The eighth change came on a three-point shot from Thomas with 13:26 to play in the first half. That shot also sparked an 11-2 run by the Patriots.
UT Dallas helped the Patriots along, shooting just 2 for 18 and missing10 straight shots during the stretch. Kimmie Grimes ended the Comets’ eight-minute scoreless streak with 3:06 left in the first half.
UT Tyler took a 32-20 advantage at the half on 48 percent shooting. Thomas recorded 16 points in the first period and scored six of the Patriots’ final nine points of the half.
The Comets pulled within eight to start the second half on the hot hand of Christina Brosnahan, who scored seven straight points. The Patriots, however, pushed their lead back to double digits and extended it to 16 with 12:12 to play with an 8-2 run.
UT Tyler maintained a lead of at least 10 for the remainder of the game, answering nearly every bucket by the Comets with one of their own. The Patriots closed out the game on a 5-2 run for their 12th victory of the season.
“We moved the ball well (tonight),” said Patriots coach Stasha Richards, whose team is 12-12 on the season. “Our goal was to shut down Lyndsey (Smith) … and her finishing the game with 11 points is huge.”
UT Dallas held an early 7-0 lead in the men’s contest and never trailed. The Patriots missed their first four shots and committed four turnovers in the game’s first five minutes.
UT Tyler still trailed by seven with 12:52 showing, but cut their deficit to three on two quick baskets by Darren Houliston and Brandon Levine. The Comets, however, scored six straight points and led 19-10 with 8:49 left in the half.
The Comets pushed their advantage to 13 during the next four minutes on baskets from four different players. But resilience from the Patriots drew the score to 27-20 with 2:25 to play in the half.
The Comets, however, slowed the Patriots momentum and took a 32-22 lead into the locker room, shooting 54.4 percent and forcing 10 turnovers in the half.
UT Dallas held its lead throughout the second half. Kyle Schleigh continued to shoot well from the floor, scoring eight points in the half’s first seven minutes. He started the game by making his first eight shots.
The Patriots trailed by 16 with 8:10 to play, until an 8-0 run cut into UT Tyler’s deficit. Larry Carpenter started the run with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Houliston followed Carpenter’s basket with a bucket inside. The last shot of the run came from Jacob McDonald, whose 3-pointer brought the home crowd to their feet.
Carpenter knocked down another 3-pointer with 3:10 to play, which cut the Comets’ lead to 10, but three points by the Comets all but put the game away.
“I thought we played a really good basketball game, but unfortunately we played a really good team tonight,” Patriot coach Kenny Bizot said. “We need to pay more attention to detail. We don’t have the type of team that can make mistakes. We’re going to face a different style of play Saturday … we need to win Saturday. I know that if we don’t win, we’re not going to the postseason.”
Carpenter led the Patriots with 12 points. Lance Murphy and Houliston followed with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Schleigh led all players with 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting and 10 rebounds.
The loss for the Patriots drops them to 7-17 in ASC play and keeps them behind Mississippi College for the final ASC East berth into the conference tournament. UT Tyler must win Saturday’s game and wait for the results of Mississippi College’s contest against East Texas Baptist.
Saturday’s games are the Patriots’ final contests at the Herrington Patriot Center. Tip-off for the women’s game is set for 1 p.m., with the men’s contest to follow at 3 p.m.
Baseball Team Has DH Friday
The UT Tyler baseball team continues its 11-game homestand Friday with a doubleheader against Arlington Baptist.
First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. from Irwin Field. The three-game series wraps up at 1 p.m. Saturday, weather permitting.
The Patriots (2-1) took two of three in the Clements Fluids Classic last weekend, scoring wins over Freed-Hardeman and Texas Lutheran.