The Horned Frogs had upset on their minds Saturday as they traveled east to Morgantown to play their first basketball game in nearly a week. After dealing with the complications from the frozen tundra that greeted Texans for the last several days the Frogs played with enthusiasm and energy on the road. “We weren’t able to practice Sunday or Wednesday, and when we were able to go, we had to pick the players up from their homes because we didn’t want them driving, and had to keep the time short to stay ahead of the weather,” Raegan Pebley said. “We certainly don’t want to complain, though — there are people hurting. We feel fortunate.”
Without Aahliyah Jackson, who missed the game due to an ankle injury, the Frogs slide sophomore Tavy Diggs into the starting lineup. Patricia Morris started for a third consecutive game as well. “Her [Morris] length, her confidence... we feel really fortunate with depth we have in the post. We like the presence that she provides from the tip,” Pebley said.
TCU fell behind five after the first quarter despite shooting nearly 60% from the field and draining three of their five attempts from behind the arc. Lauren Heard came out hot, scoring ten points on five shot attempts — including going 2-2 from beyond the arc. The Frogs would outscore the Eers by one in the second quarter to be within four points at the break, as the defensive intensity picked up for both teams ahead of the break.
The third quarter started out all Mountaineers, as they build a 14 point lead with 6:22 to play. But TCU stayed in the game thanks to the three ball — hitting on three of their six attempts as Heard stay hot and got help from Caroline Germond and Aja Holmes. Lauren had eight more points in the frame, getting to the foul line four times and connecting on three, as TCU cut the lead to just five heading into the fourth. But the Frogs struggled to contain Esmery Martinez, who eclipsed her season scoring average of 13.5 points early in the third quarter and finished the day with 21 points and 12 rebounds. (patricia?) In all, WVU had five players in double figures in what Pebley referred to as an “incredibly physical game.” She was proud of how her players fought through the physicality and the toughness they displayed. “I feel really proud of our team and the effort that we gave — this is a really tough place to play. We got beat up and we played through it; I’m proud of the fight and that we didn’t roll over.”
Trailin by five heading into the final frame, the Frogs did anything but roll over. A Michelle Berry three quickly cut the lead to two and the Mountaineers weren’t able to create much separation from there — stretching their lead to six a few times but mostly finding themselves with a one bucket ball game throughout the final ten minutes.
TCU cut WVU’s lead to three with 2:33 to play in the game when Lauren Heard turned a Mountaineer turnover into two. She hit 1-2 free throws the next time down to make it a two point game, which WVU answered with a layup after a TCU turnover. The lead was four with :40 ticks to play, but Morris came up with a layup off of a Heard setup, and answered two WVU free throws with a Diggs score with :11 to play. Trailing by two, TCU caught a break as Kirsten Deans went 1-2 from the line, giving the Frogs a chance to tie things up as time wound down.
WVU was ready for it.
“They did a great job with their switching, and we got too ‘sided’, meaning the sideline became a defender. Credit to WVU for defending it well,” Pebley said of the game’s final play, in which the Frogs were not able to get a shot off ahead of the buzzer.
TCU was led by Heard, who had 38/9/5, in another impressive outing. Diggs added 13 and seven, and Michelle Berry hit double figures with 10/4. The Frogs hit 15-22 free throws and pulled down 31 boards to the Eers 33. TCU had 20 assists and 15 turnovers, and turned 15 WVU turnovers into 20 points.
Despite the unfavorable result, the TCU Women continue to develop at an encouraging rate. There’s reason to be excited about the future of the program. “I wish we were winning some more games, but our offense has grown tremendously and our rebounding has improved. We need to get our defense back to where it was, but we are seeing growth.”
That growth will continue Wednesday, when the Horned Frogs host Oklahoma, with tip-off scheduled for 6:30pm.