By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 22, 2018) — Tarleton State was so dominant while outscoring No. 12 UT-Permian Basin 35-4 over the first 12 minutes of the second half Thursday night that even 30-year Texan head coach Lonn Reisman was left scratching his head searching for the right answer to one pertinent question – have you ever had a team play a half of basketball like that?
“I don’t know. That’s a lot of games and a lot of big wins to look back on, but that, that was something,” he said. “This young team has come a long way. They’re a pretty savvy group; collectively we have a pretty high game IQ and it’s only getting better as they get more experienced.”
Of course, followers dating back at least 14 years were quick to point out the big comeback against Texas A&M-Kingsville, when No. 1 ranked Tarleton, hosting a then-on-campus Lone Star Conference tournament semifinal contest in 2004 trailed 49-19 at half and exploded for 70 second-half points to stun the Javelinas 89-85. The Texans won their first LSC tourney title the following night, all at Wisdom Gym, where on Thursday they were splendid for a half once more.
But those Javelinas were not these Falcons, who soared to the top of the LSC and claimed regular season and tournament titles last season, their first in the league after saying farewell to the Heartland Conference.
The Falcons are tied for first in an LSC race that for the second straight year comes down to the final day of the regular season. They entered the night even alongside West Texas A&M, a regional finalist last year that is ranked No. 1 with UTPB in the No. 2 spot in the South Central Region Rankings. WTAMU lost by a point at A&M-Commerce Thursday, and on Saturday the opponents flip, with the Buffs coming to Stephenville and the Falcons heading east of the Metroplex to Commerce.
Tarleton is ninth in that ever-important poll, but is on the verge of climbing a few spots if the Texans can manage to pull off a double-whammy and beat the Buffaloes on Saturday. They did it in Canyon, but that was on a night WTAMU was an uncharacteristic 10-37 from 3, not something that can be counted on happening again.
Of course, one thing anyone following the LSC thought they could certainly count on is nobody beating UT-Permian Basin (22-4, 14-3) the way Tarleton (18-9, 12-5) did Thursday, limiting the Falcons to 35 points below their 89.2 per game average in a 78-54 beat down.
For Tarleton the win means staying one game ahead of Texas A&M-Commerce, and they split their regular season battles. WTAMU and UTPB also split and Saturday’s results will affect everything from an outright or split championship to the seeding of these four teams – WTAMU and UTPB will be 1 and 2 in whatever order and the same goes for Tarleton and A&M-Commerce at 3 and 4 – in next week’s LSC Championship tournament that now looks as wide open as it ever has as teams, fan bases and media prepare to descend upon Frisco for the first time following six tournaments in Allen where Tarleton won two titles.
Both games tip off at 4 p.m. or a little later Saturday, following women’s contests at 2 p.m.
Reisman said a commitment to getting the ball into the paint in the second half was the most significant change, and that was certainly reflected in the box score, with Tarleton owning the scoring in the paint 26-6 in the second half after UTPB led that category 20-10 over the first 20 minutes.
To say the Texans were better in every facet of the second half – especially defensively – is a little like saying Reisman has won a lot of games. That count is up to 674 overall and now 653 at Tarleton, by the way. His young team with only two seniors has won six straight and 10 of its last 12 since beginning the the year 8-7.
Tarleton in the second half was 20-32 from the field – 63 percent after hitting just 33 percent in the first half. The Texans were 6-13 from 3 – 46 percent after an abysmal 18 percent before the break. They also limited UTPB to just 19 percent shooting in the second half including just 20 percent from 3. This after the Falcons began the night hitting 37 percent overall and 30 percent from deep in the initial 20 minutes.
Corinthian Ramsey scored 18 of his 20 points in the second half and was joined in double figures by Deshawn Riddick with 14, Jaraan Lands with 11 and seven boards and Preston Enloe with 10 off the bench, leading the Texans toward a 21-8 advantage from reserves.
Josh Hawley scored eight points, six of them on monster alley-oop dunks, and also had 12 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. Riddick had 11 assists including eight in the second half to finish with an impressive double-double. Jesse Hill added another eight points off the bench for Tarleton, which after the 35-4 run run for a 23-point lead did not let the margin dip below 18.
It wasn’t as if all 40 minutes went the way of the Texans. Much of the first half belonged to Daeshon Francis and the Falcons, who led 35-27 at intermission behind an impressive start by their preseason All-American with nine points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals. He was on near quadruple-double pace, but while he scored 12 points in the second half, his only other stats were three b oards and a steal.
Francis finished with a more than respectable 21 points, eight boards, five assists and five steals, but the Texans managed to pester him into six the team’s 18 turnovers. When Tarleton got to going in the second half there were only four Texan turnovers after they gave the ball away nine times before intermission.
Sammy Allen had eight points and 11 rebounds for the Falcons but committed five turnovers.
Reisman knows his team will have a hard time replicating such a performance against an equally talented – some would argue more so – West Texas A&M club.
“It’s difficult anytime you’re coming off a big game, whatever the result, to get the emotion back on that level where you need it and to get equally prepared with a different game plan, and of course the second game in three days is more difficult on the body than the first game each week.
“But we’re doing this at home and they have to do it on the road, so none of that can be used as excuses. We have a job to do on Saturday, and whatever it takes we have to come together and find a way to get it done. It won’t be easy, but I can’t think of many games this time of year that have ever been easy in this conference.”
UT Permian Basin 54
|TEAM TOTAL %||29.5 %||25.0 %||92.9 %|
|37.14 %||30.00 %||85.71 %|
|19.23 %||20.00 %||100.00 %|
- TECHNICAL FOULS: none
- POINTS IN THE PAINT: 26
- POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: 8
- SECOND CHANCE POINTS: 10
- FAST BREAK POINTS: 6
- BENCH POINTS: 8
- SCORES TIED: 3 time(s)
- LEAD CHANGED: 3 time(s)
- LARGEST LEAD: 10 1st-10:58
Tarleton State 78
|TEAM TOTAL %||49.2 %||33.3 %||63.2 %|
|33.33 %||18.18 %||77.78 %|
|62.50 %||46.15 %||50.00 %|
- TECHNICAL FOULS: (1) RAMSEY, Corinthian
- POINTS IN THE PAINT: 36
- POINTS OFF TURNOVERS: 24
- SECOND CHANCE POINTS: 11
- FAST BREAK POINTS: 12
- BENCH POINTS: 21
- SCORES TIED: 2 time(s)
- LEAD CHANGED: 3 time(s)
- LARGEST LEAD: 24 2nd-00:23