WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: LeTourneau snaps losing streak with 72-66 win at East Texas Baptist
MARSHALL, Texas – The LeTourneau YellowJackets held off a late rally by East Texas Baptist and then put the game away at free throw line as they defeated the Tigers 72-66 on their home court Saturday.
DeShante Thomas (Tyler, Texas/Whitehouse) collected her third consecutive double-double as she scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the YellowJackets. La'Queda Davis (Houston, Texas/Waltrip) added 11 points for the Jackets.
The win kept LeTourneau (12-11) in a fourth-place tie with the University of the Ozarks in the American Southwest Conference's East Division. Both teams won Saturday to up their league records to 8-10, and LeTourneau and Ozarks will face each other Thursday in Longview.
Sophomore guard Jessica Manas (Fort Worth, Texas/Haltom) provided a spark off the bench for the YellowJackets as she scored 13 points, which included an 11-of-14 showing from the free-throw line. Manas tied her career-best in free throws made, which she set last season with an 11-of-12 performance against New Orleans.
Erika Brown scored a game-high 20 points to lead East Texas Baptist (6-17, 4-14 ASC East). Enid Sanchez added 16 points – which included a trio of 3-pointers – for the Tigers.
The YellowJackets led from start to finish, save for a one-minute stretch in the first half in which the score was tied at 10-10. LeTourneau snapped a four-game losing streak and won on the road for the first time since Dec. 10 at Sul Ross State.
LeTourneau players gave themselves some breathing room late in the first half with a 10-1 run between the 8:24 and 3:41 marks that gave the Jackets a 23-12 lead. Davis and Bailey Moon (Emory, Texas/Rains) knocked down treys during that stretch, and Manas capped the run by sinking a trio of free throws after being fouled on a 3-point try with the shot clock winding down.
Moon had one of her best games of the year, scoring a season-high nine points and going 4-for-6 from the free throw line.
The Jackets took a 33-22 lead into halftime and shot 42 percent (11 of 26) from the field in the first 20 minutes. In the meantime, LeTourneau's defense frustrated one of the worst shooting teams in the conference as the Jackets held the Tigers to 20 percent shooting (5 of 25) from the floor.
LeTourneau continued to pour it on after halftime, outscoring East Texas Baptist 9-2 in the first 30 seconds of the period to give the Jackets their largest lead of the game at 42-24. Julencia Curtis (Deltona, Fla./DeLand), Jahmilah Tyson (Houston, Texas/Langham Creek) and Meg McGuire (Hallsville, Texas/Hallsville) scored three points apiece during that run.
The Jackets kept East Texas Baptist at bay for most of the second period before the Tigers began to rally late in the game. ETBU embarked on a 12-3 run between the 8:48 and 5:25 marks of the second half to trim LeTourneau's 15-point lead down to 56-50.
The Tigers made one final surge in the waning minutes when they scored consecutive baskets to cut LeTourneau's lead to two with 2:34 remaining in the game. Brandice Latin, the Tigers' leading scorer, knocked down a layup to make the score 60-58.
However, the Tigers would get no closer as the Jackets kept ETBU from getting consecutive baskets for the remainder of the contest. LeTourneau made eight out of its last 10 free throw attempts in the final 2:16 of the game.
McGuire finished the game with seven points for the Jackets. Curtis and Andrea Ashley (Kilgore, Texas/Kilgore) added six points apiece.
The Jackets return to action Thursday with a matchup against Ozarks at Solheim Arena. The game has also been designated as the Play4Kay game, an initiative by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research.
Tipoff between the Jackets and Eagles is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.