TCU women’s basketball pulls away for season-opening 66-61 victory over Robert Morris

TCU guard Lauren Heard (center) scored 20 points in the Frogs’ season-opening win over Robert Morris.
TCU guard Lauren Heard (center) scored 20 points in the Frogs’ season-opening win over Robert Morris. Special to the Star-Telegram

TCU women’s basketball coach Raegan Pebley doesn’t like opening the season with a cupcake game. Instead, she’d prefer a test to see where her team is at.

Robert Morris, which has made the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons, provided just that on Tuesday afternoon.

TCU didn’t secure the game until the final seconds, opening the season with a 66-61 victory at Schollmaier Arena.

“I really wanted to start with a tough game early to see where we’re at,” said Pebley, entering her sixth season.

“Obviously losing two big scorers from last year [Jordan Moore and Amy Okonkwo], we wanted to really test us early. I also think when you know you have a tough opponent first, it makes those practices leading up to a little more challenging, which is what we want.

“I’m not too much a fan of starting out with a cupcake.”

Frogs senior guard Kianna Ray played a starring role, coming through with a game-changing steal with less than 30 seconds left. TCU had a 63-61 lead when Ray forced a steal and went the distance for a fast-break layup.

That more than made up for what wasn’t a great shooting day for Ray, who scored 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting. Her steal in the final seconds was her game-leading fourth of the day.

The Frogs dominated the Colonials in fast-break points 19-2.

“I just saw the ball,” Ray said. “I feel like in those moments, you’re hungry for the ball. I knew we had a close lead ... no lead is safe with 3-point shooting teams, so I just saw my teammates going after her and I saw the ball, so I went and got it.”

TCU jumped out to a 22-11 lead in the first quarter, but Robert Morris had taken a 50-47 by the end of the third quarter. That’s when TCU went to work, outscoring it 19-11 in the fourth quarter.

Senior guard Jayde Woods had a game-high tying 20 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

“Just trying to be aggressive, trying to get more possessions for my team on the O-boards and trying to get D-boards and push the ball up the floor,” Woods said of her day. “Then our posts had really good screens and I could get to the basket.”

Frogs junior guard Lauren Heard also had 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting with three assists.

Robert Morris was led by guard Nina Augustin, who had 11 points, and forward Holly Forbes, who had 10 points.

The day belonged to TCU, though, which won its eighth straight season opener.

“It’s really big,” Heard said of starting the season with a victory. “Obviously it sets the tone for the rest of the season. We want to start on top. Part of our postgame talk, yeah, we got the win but we have a lot of growth as well. It’s good to see where we are as a team.”

TCU (1-0) returns to action Sunday against Cornell. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. at Schollmaier Arena.

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