By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (February 7, 2015) — Tarleton State secured its sixth straight 20-win season Saturday night as the No. 12 Texans (20-2, 7-2) shot 53.5 percent from the floor and 52.2 percent from the arc in a 87-73 win over Cameron (10-11, 2-7) at Wisdom Gym.
Tarleton has won 20 games 16 times under 27th year head coach Lonn Reisman, including 11 times in the last 13 seasons.
“I don’t think anyone understands how hard it is to win 20 games in this conference. It’s so tough and so competitive,” said Reisman, whose club won its seventh straight game. “We’re fortunate to have a university and community that supports our program. There were 3,000 people here tonight. They’ve just been so supportive and they are a big reason we have reached this level of success.”
Mo Lee matched his career high with 24 points to pace the Texans. He was 5-6 from the floor including 3-4 from the arc, but most impressively was his 11-12 performance from the free throw stripe just three nights after going 10-10 from the line at Midwestern State. He’s reached 20 points in four of the last six games.
“Mo was really on a roll tonight and he has been for a couple weeks now,” said Reisman. “He got in foul trouble in the second half and got frustrated, but overall he’s playing very well for us.”
Tarleton went 29-34 from the stripe after going 27-30 at MSU. The Texans knocked down 87.5 percent from the line for the week, hitting 56 free throws to 26 by their opponents.
True freshman guard Nosa Ebomwonyi hit 4-7 from the arc on his way to a season-high 15 points for Tarleton.
“With our team, we start from the inside out. Anytime the ball goes inside, our bigs do a great job not only scoring but looking back outside as well. As guards, we have to be squared up and ready to shoot anytime the ball comes back out.”
Reisman said Ebomwonyi may be classified as a freshman, but he hasn’t played like it.
“Nosa is just a very under control type of guy. He’s not afraid to take big shots, he wants big shots,” said the head coach, who including his junior college coaching before Tareton is one win shy of 600 for his career. “Every time the ball comes off his hand it looks to me like it’s going in, and that’s the mark of a great shooter.”
Tarleton is tied with rival Midwestern State for second in the Lone Star Conference. They are two games behind No. 7 Angelo State, the lone unbeaten in league play. ASU visits Tarleton next Wednesday, and if the Texans climb two or more spots in next week’s National Association of Basketball Coaches rankings, it will be the first all-top 10 showdown at Wisdom since 2003 when Northeastern State (Okla.) and Tarleton were the top two teams in the nation.
“We’re definitely looking forward to that one, we’re already fired up about it,” said Ebomwonyi. “This season has been so much fun just to be a part of, and I feel like I’ve been gaining confidence all year. Now our team, including myself, has the chance to show how far we’ve come.”
Reisman echoed his freshman standout.e we’ll have a great crowd here and it should be an outstanding ballgame.”
E.J. Reed scored 13 and seven rebounds for Tarleton and Michael Hardge added 10, all from the stripe where the junior point guard was 10-12. He also had six assists and three steals. TaShawn Mabry was limited to a pedestrian eight points after being on fire the last two weeks. Damion Clemons and Malcolm Hamilton each had seven off the bench, and Clemons matched Reed’s seven boards to lead the team.
Cameron was paced by Jamaal Brantley with 19 points on 6-7 shooting from the floor and 7-9 from the stripe. He led the Aggies with seven boards. Desmond Henry and KeDorian Sullivan each added 16, and DJ Jackson scored eight off the bench.
Tarleton hit 12 3-pointers including four in the opening six minutes, but Cameron, which led 7-0 before eight straight points by the Texans, recovered and led 21-17 at the midway point of the half.
Ebomwonyi and Lee each knocked down shots from the arc to fuel Tarleton to a 26-23 lead, and the Texans never trailed again.
it was just a four-point game before Tarleton scored the final five points of the half on an Ebomwonyi tripe and a pair of foul shots by Hardge, making it 45-36 at intermission. Lee had 19 at halftime on a perfect 5-5 from the floor, 3-3 from the arc and 6-6 from the line.
Tarleton dominated much of the second half, moving ahead by 14 after 3-pointers from Ebomwonyi and Hamilton on consecutive possessions. Clemons stepped out from the paint and stuck home a 3-ball to make it 60-43, and a triple by Reed pushed the lead to 65-43 just more than a minute remaining.
Cameron closed the gap to 11 on a Zac Tabor 3-point bomb, but not until 1:14 remained.
“I wasn’t pleased with the way we played defensively, there is no excuse for that,” said Reisman, after Cameron shot 52.3 percent from the floor and went to the foul stripe 29 times, making 22. “We have to be much better defensively on Wednesday night against one of the best teams in the country.”
Notes: Wednesday’s game against ASU tips off at approximately 7:30 p.m., following a 5:30 p.m. women’s contest. Fans will have the opportunity to vote live for Davene Carter, who is a finalist for the Division II Dark Horse Dunker award that is determined solely by fan voting… While Reisman is aiming for win No. 600 of his career Wednesday, he currently has 578 wins at Tarleton…The Texans lead their all-time series with Cameron 25-10, including a 14-2 mark in Stephenville.