Hightower steps up, leads Lady Buffs past Tarleton State

STEPHENVILLE — No. 17 West Texas A&M has relied on Lexy Hightower and Tyesha Taylor to lead them all season. Hightower took the game into her hands early and often with Taylor suffering from an illness as the Lady Buffs won 76-62 in front of 1,164 fans Thursday night.

“Tarleton is a very good team and to go on their home court and get this win tonight is big for us,” West Texas A&M head coach Kristen Mattio said. “We knew it was going to be kind of a tough, gritty, grind it out game.”

With West Texas A&M (22-3, 14-3) trailing 19-12 late in the first quarter, Lexy Hightower scored the next 10 points in the game to give the Lady Buffs the lead. Tarleton State (18-7, 11-6) would answer and take a one-point lead with 7:42 remaining in the first half.

“I thought we just did a poor job of executing offensively and defensively,” said Tarleton State head coach Misty Wilson. “Give WT credit, they did a good job of making us uncomfortable in our offense.”

Lexy Hightower answered with another three-point field goal and the Lady Buffs would never relinquish the lead again. West Texas A&M used the methodical approach in the second half to take control and give Tarleton State only their second home loss of the season.

“I’m proud of the way we regained our composure (at halftime) a little bit," Mattio said. "We were sped up a little bit that first half and we relaxed. You’re never going to go on a big run against Tarleton. It was mini runs that we were able to get (against Tarleton)."


With Tyesha Taylor only able to play 16 minutes due to illness and foul trouble. Abby Spurgin stepped up in her absence and scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for West Texas A&M.

“We had out sophomore post player in there, Abby Spurgin, who I thought just gave us some really big buckets late. Abby was ready and prepared for this moment as she always is, so I’m proud of her,” said Mattio.

Lexy Hightower scored 13 of her game-high 25 points in the second quarter while Tyesha Taylor scored 10 points in her limited minutes.

“Lexy came out making some big shots in the first half and helping us in the second half," Mattio said. "Overall team effort and I can’t just really pick out one person."

The big three for Tarleton State were true to form as Mackenzie Hailey led the TexAnns with 19 points. Kaylee Allen added 16 points and McKinley Bostad contributed 13 points and five assists for the TexAnns.

“We just need one more player that can step up and score consistently, not necessarily in double figures, but just do some things to help facilitate the offense,” Wilson said.


West Texas A&M faces another tough Lone Star Conference road game on Saturday as they play Texas A&M-Commerce at 2 p.m. The Lady Buffs are in the middle of playing four games in a seven day stretch.

“They’re different from Tarleton. (Texas A&M) Commerce is very athletic and we were telling our kids this week that 40 percent of their offense comes from offensive rebounding and transition points," Wilson said. "He (Jason Burton) does a great job with that group."

Tarleton State will also have another big game as Eastern New Mexico will enter Wisdom Gymnasium ahead of the TexAnns in the LSC standings.

“We’ve got to just make sure we handle business," Wilson said. "It’s the time of year that you have to grind out wins and you’ve got to be intense and your intensity level has to grow every game. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing."

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