By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 18, 2015) — EJ Reed amassed 27 points and 10 rebounds as No. 2 Tarleton State (3-0) fought off a 31-point outburst from All-American Delta State guard Devin Schmidt in a hard-earned 80-71 win at Wisdom Gym Wednesday night.
Reed put on a show, going 9-12 from the floor and 7-10 at the foul stripe, but so did Schmidt, who was 6-10 from the arc and scored 25 after halftime for a Delta State team that made 11 second half triples and finished 14-26 shooting from deep.
Reed started hot with the opening five points of the game, and Tarleton led 9-2 early on en rout to a 38-20 halftime lead.
But Delta State (2-1), which beat reigning national champ Florida Southern 77-63 on a neutral court last weekend, scorched the net for 51 points in the second half, when the Statesmen shot 60.7 percent including 64.7 percent from 3-point range.
But nothing Delta did could get the Statesmen within range of the Texans, who led by at least eight throughout the second half, thanks largely to Reed, who scored 19 points after intermission.
“I’m just playing my game and taking what the defense gives me,” said Reed. “That game was real intense. That’s a great team we played and they have an All-American who’s a great shooter. He played 30 minutes and seemed like he still had more in his tank.”
Michael Hardge scored 18 with 12 after the break when he was 7-10 from the stripe. Charles Hill scored 17 including 15 during the first half.
“I just play off guys like EJ and Mike Hardge,” said Hill, a senior guard who transferred to Tarleton from TCU. “It can be anybody on any given night with our team. EJ, Hardge, (Malcolm) Hamilton, me, it doesn’t matter who it is as long as it’s somebody every night.”
On Wednesday, it was Reed, who now has 64 points through three games. His biggest play, though, may have been an assist on an alley-oop to Hardge, setting up the senior point guard for a monstrous dunk that restored a double digit lead down the stretch.
The Texans won their opening three games for the 10th time in 11 years and stretched their non-conference home win streak to 32 games. Head coach Lonn Reisman is now eight wins shy of 600 at Tarleton.
The Texans could be one win from rising to the top of the National Association of Basketball Coaches rankings. No. 1 Augustana lost last weekend to Washburn, 88-86. The next poll is Tuesday, after Tarleton hosts NAIA member Bacone (Okla.) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the 2015 “Final Four” banner will be unveiled.
There is a women’s contest against Texas Wesleyan at 5 p.m. Saturday, and both teams will autograph free team photos for fans following the games.
Photos courtesy Tarleton State University