A tone setting first half with a career performance from Lexy Hightower paced West Texas A&M to a 78-67 Lone Star Conference road win against Midwestern State at the D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls on Saturday.
The victory gives a proud Lady Buff tradition their sixth straight 20 win season and 27th overall in program history.
“We have a certain pride when we put on a Lady Buff uniform,” said senior Madison Parker, who is a Canyon graduate. “To know this is our 27th season and sixth in a row with 20 wins is huge. We’re a winning tradition and every time we step out of the locker room we want to up hold the tradition. There were a lot of great players before us. We want the players after us to do the same thing.”
WT went 3-0 on the recent road trip, pushing its win streak to five straight games.
WT is 20-4 overall and 12-4 in the LSC.
Angelo State (13-3 in the LSC and 18-4 overall) handled Tarleton State with a 68-49 win, to stay one-game in front of both WT and Texas A&M-Commerce in the standings.
Hightower, who drew comparisons to men’s basketball standout David Chavlovich by her coach Kristen Mattio earlier in the week, went off in the second quarter on her way to a career-high 27 point day.
The Amarillo High graduate caught the hot hand with 13 points in the second quarter, putting up 16 by half. By games end she was 9-of-16 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the 3-point line.
“Our defense set the tone early,” Hightower said. “Our offense was able to get going from there. We played great for three quarters but not in the fourth quarter. We still turned the ball over too much. But we were able to move the ball and we had open looks and knocked them down.
Thanks to Hightower and her teams first half effort, the Lady Buffs opened a 49-30 halftime lead.
WT extended the lead to as many as 22 in the third quarter. Sloppy play in the fourth with 20 total turnovers allowed MSU to rally in the fourth, but the Mustangs never closed the gap to any closer than 10.
“Defensively, we were really good in the first half,” said Mattio, whose team shot 56.3 percent from the floor. “They left Lexy open several times and she knocked down some big buckets. I didn’t love how we started the third quarter. We didn’t take care of the basketball late. We missed some easy layups, we let them get to the free-throw lines too much. But I’m proud of this team. It’s three wins in a row on the road. We feel good about that.”
The flow of the game was effected by a combined 70 free-throws. WT did win the battle inside with 28 points in the paint. Madison Parker helped that effort with 13 points and six boards. Tyesha Taylor scored eight points, while Tiana Parker pulled down eight rebounds, with six points to go with four blocks.
Megan Gamble dished out eight assists for the Lady Buffs.
MSU’s Micheline Mercelita had a double-double, 16 points, 13 rebounds in the loss as the Mustangs fall to 12-10, 9-7.
West Texas A&M 78, Midwestern State 67
West Texas A&M (20-4, 12-4): Tiana Parker 3-5 2-6 8, Madison Parker 5-10 3-6 13, Megan Gamble 0-0 3-8 3, Lexy Hightower 9-17 5-8 27, Sydney Walton 2-5 4-6 8, Deleyah Harris 4-5 2-3 11, Zada Swoopes 0-0 0-0 0, Reagan Haynes 0-2 0-0 0, CeCe Wooten 0-0 0-0 0, Tyesha Taylor 4-4 0-0 0. Totals: 27-48 18-33 78.
Midwestern State (12-10, 9-7): Micheline Mercelita 5-6 6-9 16, Avery Queen 2-4 2-2 6, Jasmine Richardson 1-6 9-10, Kristyn Rydell 1-5 0-0 3, Whitney Taylor 0-3 0-0 0, Hannah Reynolds 1-3 2-2 4, Chelsea Adams 2-6 8-9 12, Mica Schneider 3-7 1-1 8, Liz Cathcart 2-7 0-0 6. Totals: 18-51 29-36 67.
West Texas A&M;20;29;17;12 — 78
Midwestern State;13;17;14;23 — 67
3-point goals: WT: 6-14 (Hightower 5-8, Harris 1-2). MSU: 2-11 (Rydell 1-4, Schneider 1-3) .Rebounds: WT: 33 (T. Parker 8). MSU 29 (Mercelita 13). Turnovers: WT 20 (Hightower 5). MSU: 18 (Mercelita 3, Richardson 3). Assists: WT: 19 (Gamble 8). MSU: 10 (Schneider 3). Blocks: WT: 5 (T. Parker 4). MSU: 0. Total fouls: WT: 28. MSU: 29. Fouled out. T. Parker, Taylor. Technicals: None. Officials: Donny Elliott, LaTanya Martin, LeAndre Benton. Attendance: 1,277.
Lone Star Conference
West Texas A&M;12-4;20-4
Eastern New Mexico;10-6;14-9
UT Permian Basin;4-12;6-18
Western New Mexico;1-15;1-23
West Texas A&M 78, Midwestern State 67
Cameron 66, UT Permian Basin 54
Texas Woman’s 67, Western New Mexico 43
Angelo State 68, Tarleton State 49
Texas A&M-Commerce 86, Texas A&M-Kingsville 78, OT
Records: No. 25 West Texas A&M improves to 20-4 overall and 12-4 in the Lone Star Conference. Midwestern State falls to 12-10 overall and 9-7 in the LSC.
Noteworthy: The Lady Buffs win 20 games in a season for a sixth straight year and the 27th time in program history.
Next up: The Lady Buffs return home to face Lone Star Conference opponent Texas A&M-Kingsville at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.