By BRAD KEITH
ALLEN (March 3,2016) — Tarleton State (21-7) used an 11-0 second half run to take the lead for good and went on to win their seventh straight opening round game in the Lone Star Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, 68-60, over defending tournament champ Texas A&M-Commerce (17-11) at Allen Event Center Thursday.
The run was highlighted by a four-point play. Malcolm Hamilton got loose in transition and dunked the ball with a foul, but missed the ensuing free throw. It didn’t matter. Big-man Romond Jenkins blocked out for the offensive rebound and put it right back up and in to cap the run and open up a 44-35 advantage.
The Texans stretched the lead to as many as 14 and were ahead by at least nine until the final seconds, shrugging off a slow start and advancing to face No. 2 seed Angelo State in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday. ASU seventh-seeded Texas A&M-Kingsville, 87-86, on Wednesday.
Michael Hardge was 8-10 from the foul stripe over the final three minutes, finishing with 20 points. Jenkins corralled what has proven to be an elusive first double-double as a Texan. After coming close so many times, he scored 12 and collected 12 boards. Hamilton, EJ Reed and Charles Hill each scored seven. Reed did not score in the second half as TAMUC focused much of its defense on him throughout the afternoon.
TAMUC had 23 turnovers to just 13 by Tarleton, and the Texans outscored the Lions 22-10 in points off turnovers, along with a 15-5 advantage in bench scoring. Tarleton improved to 15-1 this season when turning the ball over less than 15 times, but won for just the third time when scoring under 70 points.
Tarleton did it defensively, holding TAMUC to just 38 percent shooting including just 25 percent from the arc. The Lions matched a season low in scoring, equalling the 60 from a loss at Eastern New Mexico.
The Texans had to overcome a 25-21 halftime deficit after a lack of energy and poor shooting over the opening 20 minutes, when they were 0-10 from the arc. A&M-Commerce had to feel fortunate to take a lead into intermission after 15 turnovers, its most in any half this season.
It didn’t matter as the Texans scored just 13 points off them before the break, and hit only 8 of 26 shots (31 percent). The Lions attempted less shots (20), but made the same amount and were 2-7 from the arc to grab the lead. They were led by Jeremy Jones with 10 points and eight boards by the break, though he also had five turnovers by that time.
Jones led the Lions with 22 points and 11 boards. Anthony Adams scored 13 with six assists while Ronnie White added 10 points and seven rebounds.
The game was a rubber match after TAMUC upset the Texans, 67-65 in Stephenville and Tarleton dominated the Lions, 88-74, just last Saturday in Commerce.