TCU

TCU a basketball school? Success of women, men has Frogs on their way

The TCU Frogs, including guard Lauren Heard (20) and forward Sydney Coleman (21) in the front, share thanks with fans after Thursday's 80-68 win over Lamar in the first round of the women's NIT.
The TCU Frogs, including guard Lauren Heard (20) and forward Sydney Coleman (21) in the front, share thanks with fans after Thursday's 80-68 win over Lamar in the first round of the women's NIT. pmoseley@star-telegram.com

Fort Worth has been conferred with a number of nicknames over the years that reflect the city’s character.

TCU women’s basketball coach Raegan Pebley has another: “Basketball Town.”

She wants the town to prove her right on Saturday when the women follow up Friday night's men’s first-round game in the NCAA Tournament with a Women’s NIT game against Missouri State at noon Saturday at Schollmaier Arena.

“Our crowd is a crowd that has grown all season,” Pebley said. “TCU is turning into a basketball school, and Fort Worth is getting behind basketball, both the men and the women. That’s how the WNIT works. You’ve got to have crowds.

“You’ve got to win and have crowds.”

The Horned Frogs (20-12) advanced to the second round with a victory over Lamar on Thursday. They are vying for a berth in the third round against either Rice or New Mexico.

That could be at home, but TCU must show WNIT officials it can draw a crowd.

Tickets are available for $10 through the TCU ticket office at GoFrogs.com or by calling 877-828-3764. A ticket will also gain the holder admission to Saturday’s TCU baseball game against Minnesota and/or Saturday’s TCU Invitational hosted by the track and field program.

Tickets for youth are $5. Group rates are available for $4.

The Frogs advanced by manhandling Lamar inside, outscoring the Cardinals 40-8 in the paint. Jordan Moore did the heavy lifting inside, recording a double-double with game highs in points (24) and rebounds (10) in an 80-68 victory.

Kianna Ray added 16 points and five assists and Adeola Akomolafe contributed 12 for the Frogs.

The Frogs shot 60.8 percent from the field, the fourth-highest percentage in program history.

Missouri State (21-11), coming off of a 63-59 win at Louisiana Tech, is led by first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection Liza Fruendt, who was the conference’s co-leader in scoring at 15.6 points per game. She leads a team that ranks in the NCAA’s top 15 with just 12.1 turnovers per game.

“Basketball Town” sticking requires success and fan enthusiasm.

For only the second time in school history, the men’s and women’s basketball teams are competing in postseason tournaments in the same season. When the women advanced to NCAA Tournament in 2005, the men advanced three rounds in the NIT.

The women have established something over the past 20 years. That recent success is a reflection of the university’s commitment. Long gone are the days 30 years ago when TCU women’s basketball allowance was dwarfed by high school booster club budgets.

The postseason appearance is TCU’s 15th in program history, all in the past 18 years. This is their sixth WNIT. The Frogs also represented their school in the WNIT in 2016.

The men, NIT champions a year ago, appear to be establishing a tradition as well.

Only time has that answer.

The women’s most immediate hope is a victory and good crowd.

“I love that we’re getting another opportunity to play here at home,” Pebley said. “We need a crowd on Saturday. We’re going to need a crowd to give us that extra edge.”

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