For a team that has made the 3-pointer an integral part of its identity for several years, it was work in the paint that defined the TCU women’s basketball team’s first two wins of the year.
Sunday, thanks to 40 points in the lane, TCU beat New Orleans 85-36, tying for the 11th fewest points scored by a TCU opponent.
Of the Horned Frogs’ 29 field goals, 20 were layups. Guard Toree Thompson connected with four 3-pointers, along with Zahna Medley’s three 3-pointers and Caitlin Diaz’s one from long range.
“We know we have a good transition offense, but our game plan was to push primary because we knew they weren’t as good defensively in the transition area, so that was kind of our game plan and we just stuck to it during the game and executed,” Medley said.
However, only 16 of TCU’s 85 points were transition buckets. So far, the Frogs have added a new dynamic to the team this season, the ability to get to the basket off dribble penetration.
“I think one of the things last year we had — Zahna did a great job with it — she was one of the only players that consistently were able to, what we call, win paint,” coach Raegan Pebley said. “Get the ball into the paint. This year, we’ve got a lot of players that can do that.”
Medley, continued to make points off dribble penetration a key to her game, leading her to a game-high 21 points.
For the third straight game, including TCU’s exhibition game against Texas Wesleyan, four TCU players finished in double-digit scoring, a mark Pebley said is the standard for her system.
After a double-digit point total in TCU’s exhibition match, Destynee Hives-McCray joined that group again with 10 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds.
Her experience in the paint has been key in the emergence of a post presence in TCU’s program, epitomized by a pump-fake, spinning post move that resulted in a layup in the third quarter.
“I think we have a post presence this year and we’re using that to our advantage and really getting it inside to the post,” Medley said.
Freshman post Jordan Moore had the first double-digit scoring performance of her career with 11 as well as Thompson with 13.
“It was fantastic because she’s a freshman, so she’s getting used to that post play and playing at the collegiate level,” Medley said of Moore. “Just being strong and building that confidence in the pre-conference will be really big for her.”
New Orleans’ physical play added a new test to the nonconference résumé of the Frogs. Despite posting the seventh-lowest field goal percentage of a TCU opponent at 20 percent and the seventh fewest points allowed by TCU after the first half with 12, the Privateers gave TCU a look they needed to see.
“They outworked people at the end of the season last year,” Pebley said. “We talked a lot about how we have to match, if not exceed, their energy and their high level and show some toughness in return.”
With the aggressive full-court press that is a staple of TCU under Pebley, TCU forced 28 turnovers, which resulted in 26 points for the Frogs.
For Pebley, it wasn’t necessarily the high total on the stat sheet that marked success on the defensive end of the court, but building trust in a young bench.
“One of the things that we’re really working on and trying to do is playing consistent basketball and not playing to a scoreboard,” she said. “I didn’t feel like we did that in the second half against Sam Houston.
“I felt like there was more attention to emptying out while we were in the game whether you were in for a six-minute stretch or a two-minute stretch. Continuing to build that depth and the trust in our depth that when they come in they will also sustain a high level of competitiveness.”
TCU WOMEN 85, NEW ORLEANS 36
NEW ORLEANS — Matthews 1-4 0-0 2, Taylor 2-3 0-2 4, Martin 1-7 0-0 2, Wright 1-4 0-0 3, D. Davis 0-3 0-0 0, A. Davis 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Batiste 0-0 0-0 0, Brown 2-13 3-3 8, Fogelstrom 0-2 0-0 0, Wright 0-1 3-4 3, Mundy 2-7, 3-4 7, Woods 0-1 2-4 2, Platenburg 1-5 3-4 5. Totals 10-50 14-21 36.
TCU — Moore 4-5 3-3 11, Hamilton 2-5 0-2 4, Medley 7-11 4-4 21, Butts 1-4 2-4 4, Alix 2-11 2-2 6, Thompson 4-7 1-6 13, Coleman 0-3 1-2 1, Hives-McCray 5-7 0-0 10, Diaz 2-4 0-0 5, Akomolafe 1-1 1-2 3, Lankford 0-0 0-0 0, Ferguson 0-1 1-2 1, Willie 1-1 4-4 6. Totals 29-60 19-31 85.
Halftime — TCU 35, NO 12. 3-Point goals — NO 2-13 (Wright 1-2, Brown 1-6, Matthews 0-1, Martin 0-1, Mundy 0-1); TCU 8-24 (Thompson 4-6, Medley 3-7, Diaz 1-2, Hamilton 0-1, Alix 0-4, Butts 0-2, Coleman 0-2). Fouled out — None. Rebounds — NO 36 (Taylor 7); TCU 37 (Hives-McCray 6). Assists — NO 7 (Matthews, Taylor, Wright, D. Davis, A. Davis, Brown, Fogelstrom 1); TCU 20 (Medley 6). Total fouls — NO 22; TCU 20.