By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (December 31, 2015) — No. 12 Tarleton State (10-2) dominated on the backboards and the scoreboard to close out the 2015 side of its schedule with a 81-55 win over Southeastern Oklahoma State (4-6) and hand Texan head coach Lonn Reisman his 599th win at Tarleton.
Reisman gets his first shot at win No. 600 at Tarleton on Saturday when the Texans begin Lone Star Conference play against Cameron (Okla.) at Wisdom Gym. Tipoff is about 7 p.m. following a 5 p.m. women’s contest between the same teams.
The Texans grabbed 44 rebounds to just 31 and outscored SOSU 44-16 in the paint and 20-6 in second-chance points. Tarleton also had a 30-5 advantage in points off turnovers. SOSU had 18 turnovers and Tarleton just seven including only two in the second half.
Michael Hardge scored 18 points, dealt six assists and matched his career high of five steals to lead Tarleton, which played for the first time since a 68-67 loss to Drury (Mo.) in the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 18.
EJ Reed scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Texans. Four of his rebounds were on the offensive end, and he tipped three of them directly back in.
Tarleton shot 46 percent, which was skewed by misses on a series of late acrobatic dunk attempts with the game well in hand. The Texans, who were shooting 53 percent at the final media timeout, limited SOSU to 40 percent.
Tarleton won its 15th straight against its former Lone Star Conference rival. It was their first meeting since January 11, 2011, the last season before SOSU and other Oklahoma schools left the LSC to help form the Great American Conference.
Reisman, once an assistant coach at SOSU in the 1980s, has dominated his old school. The Texans improved to 18-5 all-time against the Savage Storm, including 18-1 since joining the NCAA in 1994-95.
SOSU was led by Anton Cook with 18 points and six boards. Tyler Lonzie added 11 and six, respectively. Savage Storm head coach Kelly Green finished the game in the locker room. He was ejected after picking up his second technical foul during a second half media timeout.
The Texans, who avoided back-to-back losses for the first time since 2012, were already in control before making it a rout with a 7-1 run to begin the second half and a 8-0 stretch moments later. Hardge had an old-fashioned 3-point play to start the half and Nosa Ebomwonyi hit a 3-pointer to fuel the second run.
Tarleton was balanced and Hardge explosive from the start. The senior point guard had 13 points, three assists and three steals by halftime, when the Texans lead 43-30. Reed had nine and Jenkins eight in the first half and each collected five boards by intermission when Hamilton already had six.
The Texans scored all 11 second-chance points in the first half and held a 26-10 advantage in the paint at intermission.
SOSU began the opening half ice cold, missing its first five 3-point attempts before hitting its next five to pull within 27-25. Cook led the charge, connecting on his first six shot attempts including three from outside the arc for 15 first half points.
But Tarleton finished the half on a 16-5 charge that began with a 3-pointer by Hardge, who scored eight during the run.
The Texans took an early lead and never gave it up, jumping ahead 10-4 with four quick points each from Hardge and Jenkins, who was most active in the early going and finished with eight points and seven boards. Xavier Smith added eight and five off the bench.