By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 5, 2015) — No. 9 Tarleton State built a lead with its defense in the first half, then survived a shootout in the second to win 82-73 Saturday night over dangerous NAIA challenger Our Lady of the Lake (2-3) at Wisdom Gym.
Our Lady of the Lake, ranked No. 25 in NAIA Division I, pressed Tarleton into 17 turnovers, but couldn’t overcome 55.8 percent shooting by the Texans. That included a white-hot 75 percent in the second half when Tarleton was 18-24 from the field, even going 4-6 from the arc where the Texans have struggled early in the season.
EJ Reed poured in 23 points and collected seven rebounds. The leading scorer in the Lone Star Conference, Reed went 8-10 from the floor and 7-8 from the foul stripe. The supporting cast was led by Malcolm Hamilton in the first half, when he had all of his 14 points and most of his 10 boards for a third double-double in four games, and Charles Hill in the second half, when he netted 14 of his 19.
The big second half by Hill included a 3-pointer just after OLLU had trimmed the margin to single digits, pushing the lead back to 72-60 with 5:51 remaining. OLLU cut it to nine twice more, but Hill hit a pair of free throws the first time then converted a tip-in the second for a 78-67 lead.
Hill made another layup at the 1:48 mark, and Reed put the game out of reach with a bucket in the paint for a 82-69 advantage 30 seconds later. Hill had nine points in the final six minutes, while Reed scored in double digits in both halves including 13 in the second.
Hill also distributed five assists, second on the team behind Mike Hardge with six. The Texans had 21 total assists on 29 made baskets.
“We were breaking the press, then we just had to find the open guy,” said Hill, a senior guard who transferred from TCU. “It was there as long as we took care of the ball and saw what’s open.”
OLLU entered the game averaging more than 100 points, but scored just 25 before intermission, when Tarleton led 37-25. The Texans led by as many as 16 twice in the second half, but OLLU did get its offense rolling, hitting eight of its 12 3-point baskets after the break when it scored 48 points.
Tarleton helped the OLLU cause with 13 second half turnovers.
“We turned the ball over way too many times,” said Hill. “We had 13 in the second half and that’s way too many. It’s hard to close out a win with that many turnovers in a half.”
Hill also admitted the Texans weren’t communicating well defensively.
“We do a lot of defensive rotations. We were executing the first rotation, but not on the second pass out,” Hill said. “We just weren’t talking to each other and communicating like we need to defensively.”
OLLU was led by Joe Jackson with 16 points, 10 of those in the first eight minutes of the game. Jordan Phelps scored 14.
Tarleton grabbed 40 rebounds to 21 for OLLU, and scored 42 points in the paint to 20.
The Texans have are idle during final exam week and return to the court for a South Central Region showdown against Texas-Permian Basin at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, December 14.
we turned the ball over too many times in the second half (13)
We do a lot of defensive rotations… we were executing the first rotation but not on the second pass out. We just aren’t talking to each other and communicating like we need to do defensively.
We were breaking the press then we just had to find the open guy. It was there as long as we took care of the ball and saw what’s open.