By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (January 21, 2017) — Texas-Permian Basin (14-4, 6-3) built a 25-point lead, and once No. 11 Tarleton State (16-3, 7-2) cut it to four, back-to-back Falcon 3-pointers stretched it right back out as they soared to a 76-64 upset victory at Wisdom Gym Saturday.
A pair of technical fee throws by Deshawn Riddick and a 3-pointer by Josh Hawley trimmed the Tarleton deficit to 57-53 with 7:35 still to play, capping 27-6 run by the Texans after falling behind 51-26 almost four minutes into the second half.
But UTPB had an answer for the Texan charge, and his name was James McPherson. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers 46 seconds apart, pushing the Falcon lead to 63-53 with just more than six minutes left. He wasn’t done, burying an open left corner trey off an inbound pass that came with one second on the shot clock. That triple, his fifth, made it 73-61 with 1:40 remaining.
McPherson finished with 17 but wasn’t the leading scorer for UT-Permian Basin. Daeshon Francis was as advertised with 19 points, six boards, three assists and two steals. He was 5-5 from the line for the Falcons, who were 17-20 shooting free throws.
Tarleton was just 8-16 form the line, and those struggles carried over to the field, where they did end up shooting 40 percent but shot just 34 percent while falling behind, 39-24, at intermission.
The biggest, and perhaps most surprising, problem Tarleton ran into was rebounding. The Texans entered the game with the best rebounding margin in the LSC, but UTPB dominated the boards from the start, hauling down 44 of them to Tarleton’s 24. The Falcons had 17 offensive boards, turning them into a 21-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Johnnie Lacy scored 14 while collecting seven boards for the Falcons, who also picked up eight points and 11 boards from Sammy Allen.
Tarleton was led by Chantz Chambers with 15 points on 6-9 shooting. Hawley also scored 15 and freshman guard Brandon Willis came off the bench to go 3-3 from the arc on his way to 11 points.
Ridell Camidge couldn’t get anything going for Tarleton. The reigning LSC Offensive Player of the Week scored 61 total points in his three prior outings, but was 0-8 from the floor including 0-6 from the arc and didn’t have a point against the Falcons.
A McPherson triple opened up the 51-26 UTPB advantage with 16:02 left, but Tarleton made a valiant charge to get back in it.
A layup by Chambers, a 3 by Hawley and an old-fashion 3-point play by Romond Jenkins cut it to 51-33. Then Willis followed a pair of UTPB free throws with a 3-ball, Riddick hit two Tarleton free throws and Willis buried another triple to cut it to 53-41.
Francis scored on a fast break when the Falcons broke the Tarleton press, but Willis answered with his third 3 in as many minutes.
But another two minutes and change would go by before the Texans finally made it a single digit game, as Hawley hit a pair of foul shots to cut it to 57-48 with 8:11 remaining, and 24 seconds later a scrum ball led to more madness.
Players fought for a ball on the floor controlled by Tarleton, which called a timeout, and the scuffle led to personal and technical fouls on Francis and another UTPB tech on Sammy Allen, as well as a tech on Tarleton’s Anthony Davis, which fouled him out of the game.
Riddick made the ensuing free throws for Tarleton, which then got it into Hawley for the 3 that pulled the Texans within four. The first of McPherson’s back-to-back 3-balls came on the ensuing UTPB possession, and Tarleton never got that close again.
The first half was all Falcons, as Lacy scored nine and Francis eight while Tarleton shot just 7-23. UTPB out-boarded Tarleton 25-11 before intermission, when it was 39-24.
It’s another up-and-down week for Tarleton, which is 3-0 against nationally ranked opponents, but have suffered two losses on games played less than 48 hours after such dramatic victories. The Texans remain alone in first place in the LSC, however, thanks to Texas A&M-Commerce fending off No. 12 West Texas A&M, 104-103, in a double overtime thriller Saturday at Commerce.
The Texans hold a one-game lead over four teams at the midway point of conference play. UTPB, which rolled to a 84-61 win at A&M-Commerce on Thursday, is part of that tie, along with TAMUC, WTAMU and Cameron.
Tarleton visits Cameron in Lawton, Oklahoma on Thursday and Midwestern in Wichita Falls on Saturday.
UTPB has another long week ahead on the road with Western New Mexico Thursday and Eastern New Mexico Saturday.