By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 19, 2016) — Tarleton State scored seven straight points to break a tie early in the second half and stayed in front the rest of the way in a rugged 67-58 win over Concordia-Irvine (Calif.) at Wisdom Gym Saturday afternoon.
Romond Jenkins sandwiched a pair of buckets in the paint around a Chantz Chambers 3-pointer to comprise the run, giving the Texans a 38-31 lead just more than two minutes into the second half in to the second half.
Concordia never went away but Tarleton answered every challenge. It was 42-37 before another surge by the Texans, scoring six straight to earn the first double-digit lead – 48-37 – with just more than nine minutes to play. Chambers began the run by laying in a put back before Stephen Edwards and leading scorer Ridell Camidge each knocked down a pair of free throws.
That made it 48-37, and Tarleton followed three points by Concordia with an alley-oop from Edwards to Josh Hawley, who smashed it down for a 50-40 lead. Chambers then snared a steal, drove the paint and dished to an open Camidge for a left-corner 3-pointer and the largest lead of the game, 53-40, with 5:35 remaining.
But then, Concordia decided to try and make the most of its single-game trip to Texas, riding a series of Tarleton turnovers to a run of 10 straight points to cut it to 53-50 with 3:24 still to go.
Riddick and Davis went to the line each hit two to push it to 57-50 and the hot free throw shooting continued with Chambers hitting two more, Riddick burying two then Josh Hawley hitting four straight. The Texans were a perfect 10-10 from the foul stripe in the final minute and went 27-33 for the game.
Tarleton shot just 36 percent but used a 46-30 rebounding advantage to overcome 22 turnovers.
Camidge scored 15 points, 10 of them in the opening 14 minutes, and grabbed seven boards. Romond Jenkins doubled up with 10 points and 13 rebounds, while Chambers scored 11 with six boards. Redshirt freshman Josh Hawley came off the bench to collect 13 points, six rebounds and two blocks.
Concordia was led by a pair of guards as Mike Mellinger scored 15 points and Tad Dufelmeier added 12 along with six boards and four assists. The Eagles were never able to take off and soar in the face of a vintage man-to-man defensive performance by Tarleton that forced 17 turnovers and yielded just 35 percent shooting.
Concordia struggled especially from the 3-point line, knocking down just two of its first 20 attempts before finishing just 6-30.
Tarleton jumped out to an 11-3 advantage early on before Concordia rallied. Trailing 14-7, the Eagles used a 10-4 run to pull within one, but they would never lead the game. A layup by Hawley and free throws from Denzel Smith and Camidge quickly pushed it to 24-17.
It was 27-22 before a 3-pointer by Dufelmeier and a layup by Gerlach tied it up with 1:43 to play in the first half. A jumper by Edwards and two free throws by Chambers made put Tarleton back on top before Dalton Patchen hit a layup at the buzzer to cut it to 31-29 at intermission.
Concordia-Irvine continued a slow start after winning 22 games last season. The Eagles were 22-3 and riding an 11-game win streak before dropping their final three games and missing out on the West Region Championship tournament.
Tarleton is home again next weekend for its Thanksgiving Classic. The Texans host Colorado State-Pueblo Friday and Emmanuel College (Ga.) Saturday, both at 7 p.m.
Photos courtesy NATHAN BURAL/Tarleton Athletic Communications