By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 20, 2016) — After converting an old-fashioned 3-point play on one end, Mike Hardge collected a steal on an errant pass at the other and finally cracked a smile as he dribbled up the sideline in front of his adoring Tarleton student section.
Time was running out and Tarleton was finally safe on a back-and-forth night at Wisdom Gym Wednesday, shooting a season-best 60 percent and picking up four double-digit scoring performances to keep pesky Eastern New Mexico at bay in a 89-71 win.
It was the 20th straight Tarleton (14-3, 4-1) win over ENMU (4-13, 0-5) at Wisdom Gym, where the Greyhounds have not won since February of 1996.
Hardge moved to No. 8 in Tarleton history in assists – his 281 tie current associate head coach Chris Reisman – with nine to go with 15 points, but it was Charles Hill that led the way offensively with 22 points and three assists. Hill topped 20 points for the second straight game and third time this season while scoring in double figures for the 10th time in 12 contests.
Hill visits with Tarleton Sports Network broadcaster Casey Hogan following the game:
EJ Reed has scored more than 10 in all 17 games for Tarleton. He had 10 in the second half Wednesday to finish with 14, but grabbed a season low one rebound. It didn’t matter with Xavier Smith scoring 13 and Deshawn Riddick 11 off the bench.
ENMU shot 48 percent, the most by an opponent at Wisdom Gym this season, and had four of its own double-digit scorers. Javaan Mumtaz poured in 20 points, Lawrence Domingo and Ladarius Stewart each added 15 and Brady Patterson chipped in 10 for the Greyhounds.
But Tarleton had an answer every time, even when ENMU cut a 16-pint deficit to six in the second half. The Texans went to Smith inside for one bucket then Riddick buried a 3-pointer to restore the double-digit lead and it only grew from there.
Tarleton is at West Texas A&M at about 4 p.m. Saturday following a 2 p.m. women’s contest. Eastern New Mexico hosts Texas A&M-Commerce at the same times Saturday.