By Wendell Barnhouse
FORT WORTH, Texas – Being displaced into a temporary home is working out just fine to TCU’s women’s basketball team.
As Daniel-Meyer Coliseum undergoes a $45 million renovation, the school’s men’s team is playing its home games at Wilkerson Greines Activity Center while the women’s team is just across the street at the Recreation Center.
“We love playing in the Rec Center, we love the Rec Center … but we’re aware we don’t get to play all our games here,” first-year Horned Frogs coach Raegan Pebley said.
The Horned Frogs followed up a record-setting comeback victory over Iowa State Wednesday night with another impressive victory Saturday. This one didn’t require overcoming a 24-point second half deficit. TCU (10-4, 2-1) used a 12-2 run over the last seven minutes to flip a six-point deficit into a 70-66 upset of No. 18 Oklahoma State.
“In the past, I think our team has let (deficits on the scoreboard) get us down,” said TCU’s Veja Hamilton, who had 15 points and was one of four Horned Frogs in double figures. “This team has confidence and as players we have faith in each other. We feel there’s no deficit we can’t overcome.”
The Rec Center is where the TCU volleyball team plays. It has been set up for basketball and it’s simple – bleachers down each sideline. Attendance was 1,350 but even that small number of fans made plenty of noise during both home games.
“It’s different,” Cowgirls coach Jim Littell said. “The setting is a huge advantage, it’s a great advantage. If I was (coach Pebley) I’d want to play every game here.”
What Pebley hopes is that this season will build enthusiasm and attendance that the program will transfer back across the street next season for games at the renovated DMC.
“You don’t want a hangover and such an emotional drain on your team that you don’t perform,” Pebley said about following up the Iowa State victory with another triumph. “It’s easy to learn from losses and you have to force yourself to learn from your wins.”
Perhaps it was a lesson learned, but what the Frogs proved is that they were capable of making adjustments on the fly. TCU only got 28 minutes and two points from its bench but the starters were able to switch up defensive assignments over the final seven minutes.
Oklahoma State center LaShawn Johnson scored a game-high 20, including six in a row as the Cowgirls took a 64-58 lead with 7:23 remaining. Oklahoma State was taking advantage of Johnson against TCU’s five guard lineup but the Frogs switched up how they were guarding Johnson.
“We kept going with what was working,” Littell said. “But then they adjusted with weak side help and we needed to start reversing the ball and we didn’t adjust to their adjustment.”
Zahna Medley, who led TCU with 17 points, hit a 3-pointer to start a 12-0 Frogs run that was capped when Medley stole a pass and fed Natalie Ventress for a layup and a 70-64 lead with 20 seconds remaining.
TCU’s first Big 12 victory under Pebley took on some added significance when Iowa State handed third-ranked Texas its first loss of the season Saturday in Ames. Big 12 victories don’t have transitive qualities but Littell certainly took notice.
“Iowa State’s got a good team,” he said. “Nothing is safe in this league. You have to be almost perfect to win on the road in this league and we’re not gonna win many road games if we give up 70.”