Hours before Saturday’s matinee against UT Rio Grande Valley, the TCU women’s basketball team discovered that two starters and a key role player were unable to play due to injury.
Leaning heavily on veteran leadership and the scoring touch of senior guard Zahna Medley, the Horned Frogs overcame a five-point deficit late in the fourth quarter to beat the Vaqueros 71-67.
Medley finished with a season-high 31 points, marking the third game in her career with 30-plus points and the 25th time in program history that a player scored 30 or more.
I knew I needed to take a stronger leadership role because we had one of our captains out.
TCU guard Zahna Medley
It was the highest point total of any player under coach Raegan Pebley at TCU.
“I knew I needed to take a stronger leadership role because we had one of our captains out,” Medley said. “And I knew I needed to be a little more aggressive because some points were taken away from [the injured Frogs] not playing”
Second-leading scorer Veja Hamilton and sophomore starter AJ Alix did not play Saturday due to undisclosed “short term” injuries, Pebley said.
Pebley added that freshman Ola Akomolafe will miss at least two weeks with an undisclosed injury. The forward averages 2.5 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
Second-leading scorer Veja Hamilton, sophomore starter AJ Alix and freshman Ola Akomolafe are on the injured list.
Rio Grande Valley (4-3) held a five-point lead with just under three minutes to play when Jada Butts and Medley combined for 10 points in a 12-3 run to close out the win for TCU.
Momentum shifted in TCU’s favor when Medley came off two screens and hit a one-footed fadeaway 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the Vaqueros’ lead to one.
“I was just sticking to the game plan that the coaches provided for us,” Medley said. “They let us know that they were going under on ball screens, so I knew on that play that they were going to go under, so I just read the screening right, and the defense right, and knocked down the shot.”
Medley followed with a layup and a foul, making the ensuing free throw and giving TCU (5-1) a lead it wouldn’t relinquish in the final 51 seconds of the game.
Medley also finished with a career-high seven rebounds Saturday. Butts added 10 points, and freshman center Jordan Moore had 10 points and nine rebounds.
Caitlin Diaz played a career-high 33 minutes, recording nine rebounds and seven points.
TCU won down the stretch by hitting 6 of 7 from the free-throw line in the final two minutes. TCU entered the game shooting just 64.6 percent from the foul line.
16 Turnovers for TCU, leading to 26 points for UT Rio Grande Valley.
“It was great; that might have been the difference in the game,” Pebley said. “Being able to hit the free throws allowed us to get our press set up a couple of times. It was huge that we got these.”
The Frogs turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 26 points for the Vaqueros, but Pebley was happy with the fight her veterans showed to overcome the miscues.
“I was proud of not just their performance, but also their patience and the way they led and communicated with some of the younger players,” Pebley said. “There were a lot of mistakes that some of our younger players made under stressful situations. I feel like their leadership was needed today.”