By BRAD KEITH
Photos by CHET MARTIN
STEPHENVILLE (January 2, 2014) — For the second straight season, Tarleton State enters Lone Star Conference play with a perfect record.
The No. 4 Texans (12-0) had four double-digit scorers and picked up a second-straight 9-14 shooting night from Malcolm Hamilton in a 88-57 thumping of NCAA Division III York College (Neb.) (8-7) at Wisdom Gym Friday night.
It was the second start for Hamilton and the second straight game he led all scorers. He poured in 18 on Friday after netting 23 against South Dakota Mines on Tuesday.
Hamilton was joined in double figures by Michael Hardge with 16, Nosa Ebomwonyi with 10 and TaShawn Mabry with 10. Hardge was 4-5 from the arc and dealt five assists.Four Texans – Davene Carter, EJ Reed, Deshawn Riddick and Damion Clemons – had seven points each. Carter added 13 rebounds and Mabry had nine to fuel Tarleton’s overwhelming 49-36 advantage on the boards.
The Texans hit 50.8 percent from the field, topping 50 percent for the seventh time this season. They limited York to just 30.3 percent – including just 12.5 percent from the arc – and yielded less than 60 points for the sixth time. Tarleton entered the week second nationally in scoring defense, allowing 59 points per game. That average has dropped to 58.2.
Tarleton won its 25th consecutive non-conference game overall and its 27th straight non-conference game at home, where they have won their last 12 overall dating back to last season. The Texans are 74-4 at Wisdom Gym over the last five seasons.
Tarleton had big runs in both halves to fight off the pesky Panthers, who visit No. 22 Angelo State on Saturday before Tarleton opens defense of its Lone Star Conference championship at ASU next Wednesday.
The Texans had a 14-1 run in the first half, turning an early 7-6 deficit into a 21-8 lead. Hardge hit two threes and Ebomwonyi, a true freshman, knocked down another triple to fuel the charge. The advantage swelled to 44-20 after four straight free throws by Mo Lee and Ebomwonyi. The Texans were 17-23 from the line in a first half that featured 26 total fouls.
Lee provided six points, seven boards and four assists off the bench. He started the first nine games for the Texans before being replaced in the opening lineup by Hamilton.
York scored the final six points of the first half – it was 47-30 at the intermission – and the opening basket of the second, but it was only a matter of time until Tarleton took over again.
That time came quickly with consecutive baskets by Hardge, Hamilton and Clemons pushing it to 53-32 with 16:26 left. York managed to get back within 16 before the biggest Texan run of the night, a 23-4 surge that began with a Carter dunk, a Hardge 3-pointer, a Hamilton layup and a Mabry tip-in to put the game away. Hamilton scored eight points during the run.
Luther Thomas Jr. was York’s only double-digit scorer with 11 points. Cameron Coleman and Daymian Marshall each netted nine.