By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 21, 2015) — Three years to the day after giving Lonn Reisman his 500th win at Tarleton State, the Texans look to even their all-time series against West Texas A&M.
More importantly, No. 15 Tarleton (14-2, 2-2) is looking to move above .500 in the ever tough Lone Star Conference when the Texans host WTAMU (11-6, 2-2) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, following a 5:30 p.m. women’s contest (preview below) at Wisdom Gym.
Tarleton and WTAMU are tied for fourth in the LSC behind Midwestern State, Angelo State and Texas A&M-Commerce. MSU and ASU meet for the first time this season tonight in Wichita Falls, and the winner will be the league’s sole leader with plenty of conference play still to go.
The Buffalo roster certainly raises eyebrows, as every player is listed as a guard. The tallest player is labeled to be 6-foot-6. But don’t be misled – the Buffaloes have been on a roll, winning 11 of 13 since beginning the Coach Tom Brown era with three straight defeats.
Brown, formerly the assistant coach at Division II force Winona State (Minn.), replaced interim head coach Vinay Patel. Longtime head coach Rick Cooper resigned early last season, turning the reigns over to Patel and ultimately leading to Brown becoming WTAMU’s third head coach in two seasons.
Veteran Tez Dumars leads the Buffs with 16.3 points per game, while three others join him in double figures. David Chaylovich averages 15.3, Miles Gatewood 14.2 and Antjuan Ball 11.7. The fifth starter, Carl White, scores a respectable 8.1.
Depth has been the Buffs’ most glaring weakness. They get just 14.5 points off their bench.
Tarleton also has four double-digit scorers, but has had much more production off its bench. Mo Lee and Michael Hardge average 11.8 and 11.7, respectively. TaShawn Mabry scores 11.1, Malcolm Hamilton 10 and Davene Carter 9.1.
Tarleton’s bench scoring varies as the starting lineup has been tweaked throughout the season. Hamilton, Lee and Mabry – all double-digit scorers – have come off the bench a combined 15 times. The rest of the regulars off the bench combine for another 20.1.
Tarleton has won 12 of 15 meetings since 2009, but trails 23-22 in the all-time series.
TexAnns welcome Lady Buffs in roller-coaster LSC race
Both Lone Star Conference races appear wide open this season, but the women’s has ben particularly topsy-turvy early on.
West Texas A&M (12-2, 3-1) was ranked No. 1 in the nation to begin the season, but after four LSC games finds itself in second in its own conference. Equally surprising, Tarleton (9-4, 3-2) is below in fifth as the league rivals prepare for Wednesday’s showdown, a rematch of last season’s conference tournament final won by the Lady Buffs. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. at Wisdom Gym.
To summarize the LSC roller coaster thus far, West Texas A&M suffered its only conference loss at Midwestern State, which then had a 12-game win streak snapped at Tarleton. Then MSU fell at Texas Woman’s, while Tarleton lost at Cameron.
While Cameron may be the biggest surprise at the top of the conference, its lead over WTAMU is just a half game, with Midwestern State and Texas Woman’s tied for third just percentage points behind the Lady Buffs. So tight is the race, that the TexAnns are in fifth but are just a half game behind second-place WTAMU and one full game behind Cameron.
The Lady Buffs are paced by Chontiquah White with 17.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Sasha Watson scores 13.1 and Michaela Neuhaus 10.1. Danielle Logan and Madison McLain both average more than eight. They have been particularly balanced in LSC play, with Watson and White both scoring 15.3 while Logan and Oliver each average 13.3.
Sophomore forward Ikpeaku Iwobi has had three consecutive double-doubles for Tarleton, giving her six in her brief career. She averages 12.4 points and 8.5 rebounds for the TexAnns, who are led in scoring by Kathy Thomas at 13.8. Forward Karli Moore averages 8.8 and guard Raven McGrath scores 7.5. Meagan O’Dell and Bailey Wipff each score 6.5 and Breanna Fuller 6.3.
The Lady Buffs lead the all-time series 31-8. They took two of three from the TexAnns last season, losing only in Stephenville.