TCU was on the verge of blowing a big halftime lead Sunday afternoon when senior leader Kianna Ray stepped up and saved the day.
Ray nailed a crucial 3-point shot from up top to help the Horned Frogs stymie a late rally by Cornell in a 59-49 victory at Schollmaier Arena.
TCU (2-0) built a 15-point halftime lead because of hot 3-point shooting early, and then needed another long-distance shot to bail them out after Cornell had cut the lead to three midway through the fourth quarter.
Cornell’s Dylan Higgins made a 3-pointer out of a timeout to trim TCU’s lead to 49-46. TCU senior guard Jaycee Bradley then missed back-to-back 3s. Bradley led TCU with 15 points after going 5 of 9 from 3 to start, but she couldn’t connect on 3s from the left side on consecutive possessions.
Cornell (1-1) had a chance to tie the game, but Higgins missed a wide open 3 from the left side. On the next possession, TCU worked the ball inside before kicking it back out to an open Ray, who drained it to give the Horned Frogs a 52-46 lead.
“I knew it was a big shot,” Ray said. “I saw that I was open, so I took it, and we took that momentum and just tried to keep running with it.”
Ray finished with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds, and junior guard Lauren Heard added 13 points.
Heard helped TCU pull away early by nailing two 3s as part of a 7-0 run to start the second quarter to give the Horned Frogs a 27-16 lead. Cornell responded in the third quarter, outscoring TCU 14-5 to get back into the game.
Senior forward Laura Bagwell-Katalinich led Cornell with 17 points and 17 rebounds. But the Horned Frogs did a great job defending Cornell guard Samantha Widmann, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a season-opening win Friday at Albany. Widmann never scored and finished with only three rebounds.
TCU made 9 of 14 3-pointers in the first half, but was only 2 of 10 in the second half.
However, one of those two proved to be the huge shot by Ray.
“Really, really big,” TCU coach Raegan Pebley said of Ray’s late 3. “It came with playing the way we had in the first half, with good ball movement. That possession turned into our favor that we went with one more pass, and Kianna was confident in that 3.”