LAREDO, Texas — The Texas A&M-Kingsville women's basketball program was locked in a bitter fight with Texas A&M International on Thursday at the Kinesiology and Convocation Building, and used a last-minute basket followed by a decisive defensive stop to secure the final non-conference win of the season at 60-56.
"I thought there were a lot of solid runs by both teams," said head coach Michael Madrid, "and that was fun to watch. We made some plays down the stretch that allowed us to finish strong.
"I'm excited about our program. We are continuing to grow from game to game. I'm looking forward to practicing tomorrow and getting better."
Sophomore Georgia Ohiaeri (Las Vegas, Nev.) was the driving force for the Javelinas (10-4) as she put away the final six points of the game, four at the line and the go-ahead basket with 10 seconds to spare, while freshman Devon Williams (Gonzales, Texas) swatted away the would-be tying shot from the Dustdevils (10-3).
TAMUK entered the final stretch down 54-48 after the final media timeout. Ohiaeri stepped up first coming out of the break with two from the stripe before classmate Kryslyn Jones (Edmond, Okla.) stripped the ball from Clara Fernandez and sprinted down the court for the fastbreak layup with 3:11 remaining.
Eva Langton provided what became the final points for the hosts on a feed from Fernandez ahead of Ohiaeri's next freebie from the line at 1:22. Freshman Mia Rivers (College Station, Texas) set the stage less than 30 seconds later as she went 1-for-2 on her free throws and a foul on Ohiaeri's rebound after the miss on the second try sent it back to the line.
Ohiaeri summarily made both and waited out the next TAMIU possession that resulted in a rebound by Rivers. The ball found its way to junior Brianna Pena (Weslaco, Texas) who connected with the UC Riverside transfer in the open lane for the thrilling go-ahead basket, 58-56, that prompted a timeout from the Dustdevils with 10 seconds on the clock.
The look coming out of the stoppage saw Langton drive left of the paint but was greeted by Williams who dashed any hope of overtime with her fourth block of the game. Ohiaeri put a bow on the win not long after with two more for the final score.
The final minute punctuated what was otherwise a muted back-and-forth affair between the squads. TAMIU held an early lead in the opening quarter, 10-7, at the game's first media timeout that featured a trey from freshman Janessa Payne (Aledo, Texas) to tie the contest at 15 apiece heading into the second.
Fellow freshman Annelise Dominguez (El Paso, Texas) gave the Javelinas their first lead of the matchup with a three-pointer of her own at 9:10 in the second to start the stanza. A 10-3 Blue and Gold run that straddled the media timeout broke a 20-20 stalemate in the quarter for a 30-23 cushion by the 3:18 mark, while the hosts ended up with six of the final seven points of the half that had the Javelinas ahead 31-29 going into the locker rooms.
Both sides traded baskets throughout the third with TAMIU having the slight edge at 44-42 going into the fourth. The Dustdevils built out their largest lead on an Audry Hornaday triple that sent TAMUK to the 54-48 deficit that preceded the final five minutes.
Dominguez led TAMUK with 10 points combined with four rebounds, three assists and a steal.
No other Javelina had double figures in points as Jones, Ohiaeri and Payne all finished with nine. Williams added four points but put in her best work on the defensive half with five rebounds and four blocks, only the second time in her career she had more than two blocks in a contest and just one off her career-high.
Rivers and senior Anastacia Mickens (Beaumont, Texas) both tacked on seven points while Pena finished with five points and a game-high six assists.
The Javelinas return to the Steinke Physical Education Center at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday, January 15, for the rematch against the Dustdevils in a contest that will count towards the LSC standings.