By BRAD KEITH
LAWTON, OKLA. (January 26, 2017) — Chantz Chambers couldn’t miss from the field in the first half or from the line in the second.
The senior guard poured in 26 points and Tarleton held off a strong second-half charge by Cameron for a 80-74 victory at Aggie Gym to retain sole possession of first place in the Lone Star Conference Thursday night.
Tarleton built a 66-52 lead, and with Cameron charging back the Texans made their last 10 free throws, six of them by Chambers, who was 8-12 from the floor and 8-11 from the line.
“This is a very tough place to come and get a win and they have a very good ball club, so I feel fortunate to get out of here with a victory,” said head coach Lonn Reisman, who is 27-8 against Cameron in his 29 seasons at Tarleton. “I don’t remember ever coming into Lawton and it being easy, and it certainly wasn’t tonight. We would get a lead then they would go down and hit a big 3 or get a couple steals with their press. It was difficult to put that team away tonight.”
But the Texans did it. Thanks to Chambers.
Late in the shot clock, Tarleton would isolate Chambers above the key and let him drive. The senior delivered in a big bounce-back game for the Texans, who are clinging to a one-game lead and were coming off a 76-64 upset loss at home to UT-Permian Basin five days prior.
“This was huge for us, especially after losing last Saturday, because now we know we have to win a lot of big road games if we want to win the conference championship,” said Chambers. “Cameron has a good team, so getting a win here is great.”
Next up is arch-rival Midwestern State, which may have put on its best display of the season Thursday in knocking off Texas A&M-Commerce, 78-57. Tipoff Saturday is at 4 p.m. following a 2 p.m. women’s contest at D.L. Ligon Coliseum in Wichita Falls.
Chambers is aware Tarleton has struggled on Saturdays after strong Thursday night performances, like last weekend for example, or when they were upset at Texas A&M-Kingsville two days after thumping then No. 5-Angelo State 92-60.
“We have to overcome adversity because we know we are going to get everybody’s best shot,” said Chambers. “Midwestern just beat Commerce by 21, so they’re getting hot now, too, and that’s a tough place to play. We have to stay focused and play the way on Saturday that we do on Thursday.”
Cameron used a 10-2 run fueled by a pair of 3-pointers, the second by Delvonte Pierre to pull within 68-62, the closest they had been since it was 20-14 with 9:25 to go in the opening half. The Aggies would get even closer, too, with Tarleton making its free throws and Cameron its 3-pointers, including one from more almost 28 feet away by Trey Hall after intercepting a pass from Texan Anthony Davis.
It was the sixth 3 by Hall, who led Cameron with 22 points. Tyus Momoh added 19 and JV Long 14, 13 of those in the first half.
But Tarleton shot 54.3 percent from the field and 79.3 percent from the foul line, where they were 23-29. Ridell Camidge and Deshawn Riddick made it three guards in double figures for Tarleton, scoring 14 and 10, respectively. The Tarleton big men all battled foul trouble, including Romond Jenkins, who scored nine points in the opening 10 minutes of the second half before fouling out with that many.
Tarleton led 38-27 at the break after hitting 6-10 first half 3-pointers while Cameron was 0-10. Chambers was 7-8 from the floor including 2-3 from the arc and had 16 in the opening 20 minutes, while Long had 13 points on 5-6 shooting and hauled down seven boards.
Tarleton jumped on top 18-6 after going 4-5 from the arc early on. Cameron responded with eight straight points, four on transition buckets by Long, before Tarleton answered with six in a row, ending with a driving layup by Chambers for a 24-14 lead that led to an Aggie timeout.
Tarleton stretched the advantage to 36-18 by hitting 15 of its first 20 shots attempts, but the Aggies got back into it with a 9-2 run to the end of the half.
The Aggies host A&M-Commerce at 4 p.m. Saturday.