By BRAD KEITH
WICHITA FALLS (January 28, 2017) — A career night by Romond Jenkins and a 14-0 second half run were just enough for No. 14 Tarleton State (18-3, 9-2) to hold off arch-rival Midwestern State (13-7, 6-5) in a 77-72 Lone Star Conference nail biter Saturday at D.L. Lion Coliseum Saturday.
Jenkins racked up 21 points and matched a career high with 17 rebounds, leading Tarleton to its fourth straight win inside the place known affectionately as The Dome. The prior three wins came when Tarleton swept its way to the 2016 South Central Region championship.
Tarleton improved to 11-0 when Jenkins doubles up. He was 9-15 from the floor and 3-4 from the line and managed to stay in the game after drawing his fourth foul with about four minutes left.
“I was just playing my game and taking what came my way, not really forcing anything, just focusing on rebounds and defense and, on offense, take what comes, and it worked tonight,” said Jenkins. “This is a big road trip for us because Cameron (who Tarleton beat 80-74 on Thursday) and Midwestern are two of the good teams in our league who we knew would be gunning for us, and this keeps us in first place in the conference.”
Tarleton had to fight off eight 3-pointers and 28 points by B.J. Jenkins and 18 points by guard Pat Smith, as well as a 38-31 halftime deficit. Those two MSU guards combined for 11-22 from 3, while the rest of the team was just 1-8.
Tarleton had a rare off night from the arc, going just 5-21, but the Texans managed to shoot 47 percent on the road and hold the hometown Mustangs to 45 percent. Tarleton pulled off its first regular season sweep of the Mustangs since 2010-11 in a series that has now featured 10 consecutive single-digit decisions.
The win means Tarleton keeps its narrow lead atop the LSC standings. UT-Permian Basin is a game back in second. Tarleton returns home to Wisdom Gym for its next four games, beginning with Western New Mexico at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
Tarleton trailed 49-41 following an 8-0 MSU run that ended with, what else, a Brandon Jenkins 3. But Chantz Chambers drove for an ‘And-1’ and added the ensuing free throw, then the senior guard (who had 26 Thursday) converted a layup after a stop on the defensive end. Curtis Anderson scored on a short jumper off a pass from Brandon Willis to bring Tarleton within one, 49-48, and 11:53 still to go.
After a two-and-a-half minute standstill, Chambers buried a 3 for the only lead change of the game, making it 51-49 Tarleton with 9:25 left. Jenkins made it 12 straight with a layup from Deshawn Roddick, then Ridell Camidge completed the run with a midrange jumper that gave the Texans a six-point advantage.
Tarleton stretched the lead to seven before a jumper by Igor Ibaka and a 3 by Smith trimmed it to 61-59, and it got even closer when Smith’s old-fashion 3-point play made it 63-62.
But Anthony Davis answered fire with fire, or at least ‘And-1’ with ‘And-1’. The redshirt freshman powered home a bucket in the paint through contact and added the free throw before a big dunk by Jenkins made it 68-62.
Tarleton got ahead as many as eight on four free throws by Davis and Camidge with 48 seconds to go, virtually icing the victory. MSU did pull within 75-72 on the final three by its Jenkins, but Deshawn Riddick hit two free throws to conclude the scoring.
Camidge and Chambers combined for 24 points in the second half, when Chambers scored 13 of his 16 and Camidge all of his 11. They also combined for eight assists and point guard Riddick had six himself.
Brandon Neel gave MSU a third double-digit scorer with 12.
Tarleton’s 38-24 advantage in the paint made up for being outscored 28-16 off the bench.
The first half was a struggle throughout for the Texans, as MSU led the entire opening 20 minute before Tarleton dominated the second half, 46-34. Brandon Jenkins made four threes in each half and had 16 at halftime.
Tarleton’s Jenkins had earned his double-double by halftime, and Tarleton needed every bit of his 12 points and 10 boards to stay in the game before intermission. The Texans shot 40 percent in the first half before knocking down 54 percent in the second.
“At halftime we were just down seven and that was with Ridell and Deshawn going 0-for-8,” Romond Jenkins pointed out. “Those guys are hard to hold down for both halves.”
Turns out, so is Tarleton State.
MSU hits the road next week, visiting Texas A&M-Kingsville and Angelo State on Thursday and Saturday.