“We started out strong,” TC head coach Romeo Lagmay said. “We didn’t have Jamie Robinson our leading rebounder and scorer due to an injury. Everyone else knew they had to step up and that is what I told the team. It is a team sport and everyone is good on this team. The first half we were real strong, we put the full court press on them. We did a lot of scoring on fast breaks. We got a little sloppy in the second half. What I am trying to teach them is to be a first and second half team. I am really proud of them. We came out strong, we didn’t have Jamie and we just proved to folks out there in the basketball world that we don’t rely on Jamie; it is a team sport and all of us can get the job done.”
In the first NAIA poll of the season, the Lady Tornadoes were ranked 13th, which is 16 spots higher than they were ranked in the preseason poll. Lagmay and the Lady Tornadoes are proud of the ranking, but they are not satisfied.
“We were hoping for top 10, but we actually made history, so we will take it,” Lagmay said. “We went from 29th to 13th, so we are thankful for that. This is the first time in the history of the school that we have that high of a ranking in the NAIA. Actually in the mid 1990’s they went to the NAIA tournament, but they never had that high of a ranking. We are very proud of that. We are one of 10 teams in the country that undefeated, so we are proud of it, we will take it.”
TC went on a 15-6 run to open the game. Ryann Drear scored eight points during the run, which included back-to-back 3-pointers.
Ryven Jackson hit a layup to give TC a 21-10 lead. Arielle George scored five straight points to give TC a 26-11 lead with 13:02 left in the first half.
Tennessee Wesleyan cut the lead down to 10 points on an Armeka Booker layup to make it 28-18. The Lady Tornadoes responded with a 10-3 run to increase their lead to 39-21. Freshman Sadie Fleschner got the run started with a layup to make it 30-12. George and Tianna Jones scored layups in transition to give TC a 36-21 lead. Drear capped off the run with a 3-pointer to make it 39-21. The Lady Tornadoes led by as many as 22 points in the first half, but Tennessee Wesleyan was able to cut the lead to 51-36 going into halftime.
In the first half TC went 5-10 from behind the arc and shot 55 percent from the field.
“They are good,” Tennessee Wesleyan head coach Jeff Rice said. “Talladega is good. They are athletic at every position; they are big and strong on the inside. We probably let them have too many wide open threes in the first half and they knocked some down and got too far away. We just fight; I would have liked to knock down a few more shots in the second half. As long as we can get No. 15 (Booker) the ball we have a chance to be pretty good.”
In the second half, the Lady Tornadoes increased back to 20 points off a Jackson jumper to make it 62-42. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Mary Moyer and George gave TC a 72-49 lead, but the Lady Bulldogs fought their way back in the game.
Tennessee Wesleyan went on a 15-2 run, which was sparked by the play of Shira Buley and Booker. Buley scored seven points during the run including a layup to make it 74-59. Booker scored four points including a put back to make it 74-61. Cody Houck hit two 3-pointers in the second half including one to make it 79-66. Booker’s 3-point play cut TC’s lead to eight points. That’s as close as they would get. Jordin Feldman showed off her footwork as she did a step through in the low post for a layup. Drear scored a layup off a turnover to seal the Lady Tornadoes 83-71 victory.
TC had four players to score in double figures. George led the way 18 points. Feldman scored 16 points and pulled down five rebounds. Jackson filled up the stat sheet on Tuesday with 15 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. Drear scored 13 points and Jones chipped in with eight points and six assists.
TC travels to Lebanon, Tennessee to take on Cumberland on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Booker led the way for Tennessee Wesleyan with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Buley scored 15 points for the Lady Bulldogs.