By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 3, 2016) — Josh Hawley began the second half like a man possessed, scoring 10 points and blocking two shots over the opening six minutes to help No. 16 Tarleton State (6-1, 2-0) turn a four-point edge into a commanding 20-point lead over Cameron (Okla.) (7-2, 1-1).
The Texans survived a 12-0 run by Cameron and kept the Aggies at arm’s length the rest of the way to win, 73-60, in a Lone Star Conference contest Saturday at Wisdom Gym.
Hawley hit a pair of 3-pointers and two inside jumpers for his 10 quick points. All of the redshirt freshman forward’s 16 points came in the second half and he also grabbed nine rebounds, one shy of his first career double-double. Romond Jenkins averages a double-double, and the senior center padded his numbers with 12 points and 11 boards.
“I’m proud of how we finished games this weekend,” said Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman, whose club combined to outscore rival Midwestern State and Cameron by 20 after halftime Thursday and Saturday. “We’re still making mistakes and have a lot of room to improve, but we have showed a lot of competitiveness and mental and physical toughness in the way we’ve finished these first two conference games.”
Tarleton (6-1, 2-0) visits Western New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico next Thursday and Saturday, respectfully.
Hawley missed both his shot attempts in the first half, but did grab five rebounds in the opening 20 minutes. He added the offensive element in the second half to help Tarleton pull away. Tarleton went right to him in the paint on the opening possession and he backed down a defender before connecting on a soft turn-around jumper. Then the Irving MacArthur product stretched the defense to the arc and buried a left-wing 3. A left-corner 3 would soon follow, as well as another short range jumper.
“I’ve had trouble with my shooting, but my coaches and teammates just keep telling me to keep my head up and they’ll start falling,” said Hawley. “I just got hot (at the start of the second half) and my teammates kept getting me the ball where I could score.”
Reisman called Hawley’s explosion a product of playing within the offense.
“We executed our offense and he executed his role in it, and that put him in a position to succeed and to score,” said Reisman. “We didn’t look at him and tell him we needed more from him or anything like that, we just executed better and that led to him getting opportunities and taking advantage of them.”
It was a 27-11 Tarleton run over the first eight minutes of the new half, giving the Texans a 56-36 advantage after leading by just four at halftime.
Cameron wouldn’t die easy, scoring the next 12 points before a Ridell Camidge-to-Jenkins alley-oop for a smash down by the big center, who later dribbled behind the back through traffic at half court and made a nice pass in transition to Hawley for a hard two-hand slam and a 60-48 lead with 5:40 left.
The Aggies briefly pulled within single digits once more at 60-52, but Deshawn Riddick tossed an alley-oop that Jenkins dunked, and the advantage was at least 10 the rest of the way.
“Without Romond Jenkins I don’t know if we would have a very good basketball team right now,” said Reisman. “He’s a workhorse down around the basket and one of the best rebounders we have had in a long time.”
Tarleton shot 53 percent from the floor and and an equal 53 percent from the arc, where the Texans were 10-19 including 5-9 by Camidge. The junior guard and Divsion I transfer had all of his 3-pointers and 15 of his game-high 19 points before the break, and added eight boards for the game.
“We believe Ridell is a special player, and as he becomes more comfortable in our system and with the players around him, we believe he will have a tremendous season,” said Reisman of the UNC-Charlotte transfer.
Chantz Chambers scored 12, giving the Texans four in double figures.
Camidge carried the Texans throughout the first half, helping them to overcome an early 14-3 deficit and lead 29-25 at the break. Tarleton surrendered 14 points in the opening four minutes of the game and 11 the remaining 16 minutes of the half. The Aggies entered the game averaging 76.1 points.
Cameron was led by Tyus Momoh with 13 points, while Tyler Williams and Bryan Mitchell each netted 10. The Aggies break from LSC play to visit Southwestern Oklahoma State on Tuesday and host Lubbock Christian on Friday.
-Ten 3 pointers is the most in a game this season for Tarleton, which has not hit more than seven since knocking down eight against Adams State in its season opener. The Texans made 16 3-pointers in an Elite Eight quarterfinal loss to national champ Augustana (SD) last season.
-Tarleton shot 52.6 percent from outside the arc, its best since hitting 53.8 percent (14-26) at Eastern New Mexico last February.
-Jenkins registered his fourth double-double of the young season. He averages 10.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.
-The Texans out-rebounded Cameron, 41-33. They have out-rebounded six of their first seven opponents.
-Tarleton won for the sixth time in its last seven meetings with Cameron, pushing its lead to 26-8 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1994. The Texans improved to 17-2 against the Aggies in Wisdom Gym with their fourth straight home win in the series.