By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (November 26, 2016) — What a difference a day can make on the hardwood. What a difference it made for Tarleton State, especially on the defensive end.
Veteran head coach Lonn Reisman said his No. 7 ranked Tarleton Sate squad would focus on showing more defensive intensity against Emmanuel College Saturday, and it showed as the Texans hammered the Lions, 75-47 in the final game of the third annual Thanksgiving Classic at Wisdom Gym.
It was night and day after falling to Colorado State-Pueblo, 79-78 on a free throw with less than two seconds remaining, on Friday.
This time Tarleton muscled up in the post without drawing fouls, playing defense with their feet while their hands were straight up just as Reisman pleaded for on the bench. A cold shooting Emmanuel team – the Lions hit just 27.4 percent from the floor including only 16.7 from the arc – had no answers.
In short, Tarleton looked more like a team getting ready for a bout with arch-rival Midwestern State. That’s next up to open conference play at 7 p.m. Thursday and promises to be much more competitive, more along the other games of the Thanksgiving Classic, all of which came down to the final minute.
Tarleton shot a robust 52.8 percent and had four double-digit scorers with starting forwards Anthony Davis and Romond Jenkins each netting 13, and forwards Josh Hawley and Denzel Smith coming off the bench to add 12 and 11, respectively.
It was a dog fight early on, with Tarleton up 21-17 11 minutes into the game. But that’s when Tarleton exploded for the big run before Emmanuel hit a couple late free throws to cut it to 44-22 at intermission.
The run was early but decisive, and was completed by a pair of fierce dunks by redshirt freshman forward Josh Hawley. His first came when he leaped above a crowd to spear a missed free throw with one hand, and without coming down cocked the ball back and flushed it through the rim. A moment later he tipped the ball away near half court and was alone to glide to the basket and reach back for another fierce slam down.
The run began with a step-back 12-foot jumper by point guard Riddick, the same type of shot he buried time and again on his way to a career high 27 in a one-point loss to Colorado State-Pueblo one night earlier.
Anthony Davis followed a defensive stop with his third 3-pointer, and on the next possession turned down a shot form the arc to lob a pass into Curtiss Anderson for an easy layup and the first double-digit lead of the night at 28-17.
Emerson McClung slowed Emerson’s bleeding with a bucket, but Hawley hit a 3-pointer to touch off his seven points during the run. Davis then laid one in and Anderson hit two free throws to make it 35-19. Emerson got a foul shot to go before a layup and a free throw by Denzel Smith. He missed the second foul shot, but that’s when Hawley soared above everyone for the first of his back-to-back dunks.
Tarleton scored the first eight points of the second half to make it a 31-5 run going back to the nine-minute mark of the first half. The lead was as much as 32 and Emmanuel never cut it to less than 25.
Riddick and Anderson each finished with nine points or Tarleton and Chantz Chambers and Ridell Camidge each added four to round out the scoring. Tarleton blocked eight shots and Emmanuel didn’t block a single one. The Texans also had a 43-37 advantage on the backboard.
Full report coming soon from The Flash.
Photos courtesy NATE BURAL/Tarleton Athletic Communications