FORT SMITH, Ark. – No. 24 Tarleton’s second-half dominance paved the way to an impressive 85-71 season-opening win over Metro State at the RMAC/LSC Challenge on Saturday.
Led by Josh Hawley tying his career high with 27 points and 12 rebounds, the Texans were able to win their seventh straight season opener. It was the 26th career double-double for the Lone Star Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
The Texans outscored the Roadrunners 51-35 in the second half after trailing by two at the break. The Texans trailed by as much as seven in the first half but regrouped at the break to show flashes of why they were ranked in the top 10 nationally in two preseason polls.
Newcomer Devin Bethely opened the second half with the first five Texan points to cut the deficit to one. The layup was the start of an 8-0 Texan run to take the lead and never trail again. Bethely finished with 12 points – 10 of which came in the second half – on 5-of-8 shooting and two steals.
When Metro State tied the game at 45, the Texans once again had an answer as Randall Broddie drilled one of his game-high four 3-pointers to start a 14-0 run. Broddie finished the game with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting and added five rebounds and three assists.
Tarleton’s largest lead in the game grew to 24 on a 360-degree alley-oop dunk by Hawley, who was sensational in the second half, scoring 16 of his 27 in the final frame. Hawley’s defense translated into offense too, as the reigning LSC Defensive Player of the Year tallied two steals and a block that led to transition buckets. As a team, the Texans recorded 18 points off Metro State turnovers.
The Texans dominated on the glass, as they grabbed 41 rebounds to Metro’s 33 boards with 11 of the rebounds coming on the offensive end. Clashon Gaffney had four of his six rebounds on the offensive side and added eight points and two blocks in his first-career start for the Texans. Isaiah Boling scored five points and led the team with four assists in a starting role.
Tarleton shot 49 percent for the game and 53 percent in the second half, including 58 percent (7-of-12) on 3-pointers. The Texans made 11 3’s on the night with seven coming in the second half. The Texans limited Metro State to 34 percent shooting in the second half.
The Texans had 15 points off the bench, led by senior Jaraan Lands, who had six points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Josh Williams and Isaiah Range each had four points while Zach Naylor had one in the win.
Tarleton has a quick turnover for game two, as the Texans will face Black Hills State on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. at the Stubblefield Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas.