A furious fourth-quarter rally fell short as TCU women’s basketball (2-2) lost 66-59 to University of South Florida (5-0) in the 16th annual Maggie Dixon Classic.
The classic honors former Army head coach Maggie Dixon, who died in 2006 of a heart arrhythmia. She was the sister of TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon.
TCU played from behind almost the entire game. USF opened the third quarter on a 6-0 run to break a 27-27 halftime stalemate. Another 9-0 stretch in the fourth quarter put the Horned Frogs down 13 points.
“Starting the third quarter, we were too flat,” TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said. “When two good teams are playing against each other those margins of error are slight and you have to be ready.”
A 58-45 deficit with 5:19 left in the game seemingly gave USF complete control.
TCU suddenly flipped a switch and went on an 11-0 run over a three-and-half-minute span. Guard Tomi Taiwo scored the final five points on a three-pointer off an out-of-bounds play and a reverse lay-up on the next possession.
Taiwo scored a team-high 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. She has led the Horned Frogs scoring attack the past three games.
“It’s just good execution and listening to coaches and having my point guard trust me to be able to hit those shots and vice versa,” Taiwo said of her recent scoring success. “People are stepping up. Roxane (Makolo)’s played really well the last two games. Lucy (Ibeh) came in off the bench with great energy.”
Guard Roxane Makolo also broke double-digits with 15 points and forward Lucy Ibeh chipped in 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. USF guard Elena Tsineke scored a game-high 21 points. Wing Carla Brito posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
A Tsineke bucket and a missed shot from Makolo gave USF a 60-56 lead with 26 seconds left. The Bulls sealed the game on free throws as the Horned Frogs fouled to extend the game.
Better ball movement on offense and increased defensive intensity during the fourth quarter helped the Horned Frogs chip away at the 13-point deficit, Pebley said. TCU’s overall performance is a reminder the transfer-heavy team has only played four games together.
“This team is starting to figure out what makes them be best version of themselves and not just because a coach is saying it, but they start to feel it and vibe that,” Pebley said. “When they’re all locked in that way, I think our productivity on the court gets even better.”
TCU led just twice throughout the game, both times during the second quarter. Makolo’s jumper with 1:32 left in the first half gave the Horned Frogs their final lead at 25-23. She then hit a lay-up as the halftime buzzer sounded to tie the game at 27.
Shooting 10-of-34 (29.4%) in the first half, including 2-of-10 from behind the three-point line, contributed to a slow start. The Horned Frogs finished 21-of-58 (36.2%) from the field.
“I thought they were good shots early that we weren’t hitting,” Pebley said. “We want them to stay confident in that space.”
Missed free throws (12-of-21) also took away opportunities to close the deficit or grab the lead throughout the game.
TCU received an energy boost during the first half from the football team. The No. 4 team in the country took up two sections while cheering on fellow Horned Frogs and giving a standing ovation at halftime.
“That just shows the culture of TCU and what the university is about,” Taiwo said. “They didn’t have to come there and support us in the first half, but that energy helped us fuel ourselves.”
Oklahoma beat UT-Arlington 89-80 in the second game of the Maggie Dixon Classic.
TCU will return to action against Sam Houston State on Wednesday, November 23 from Schollmaier Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30p.m.
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