Gipson scores career-high 30 in 75-72 loss to GCU in WAC opener

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STEPHENVILLE – Montre’ Gipson scored a career-high 30 points, including 22 in the second half alone, as the junior guard nearly led Tarleton to a comeback win in its Western Athletic Conference opener against Grand Canyon.

Tarleton’s 3-point shot in the final seconds to tie the game bounced off the front rim and the Texans fell to the visiting Lopes, 75-72, on Friday in Wisdom Gym.

“We had a chance to win and didn’t make it happen,” said head coach Billy Gillispie. “[Grand Canyon] made the biggest plays when they had to down the stretch. Our guys played hard. It’s a very good start and we’ll try to figure out something and see what we can do tomorrow.”

The WAC opener marked the first Division I conference game for the Texans and also the first time a Division I opponent played inside Wisdom Gym. Gipson’s scoring outburst was the first 30-point game for the Texans since Corinthian Ramsey dropped 40 in November 2017. Gipson finished the night 11-19 from the floor and 3-6 from 3-point range to go along with 5 rebounds and team-highs in assists (4) and steals (3).

“Tre made some real big shots for us. He’s a really good offensive player and extremely smart player. He didn’t miss hardly anything tonight. You can’t gripe too much about the way Tre played tonight and hopefully he’ll continue to play that way all year and the rest of his career here.”

Although undersized against GCU – who leads the WAC in average roster size at 6’5.7″ compared to Tarleton ranking the smallest at 6’3.5″ – the Texans went bucket-for-bucket against the experienced Lopes, who were picked to finish second in the conference’s preseason poll. GCU only outrebounded the Texans 36-30, as Tahj Small grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds to lead all players while adding 11 points for his second straight double-double.

The Texans opened the game strong on both ends of the court to build a 14-7 advantage – their largest of lead of the game – through the first eight minutes. Small and Gipson combined for 11 of the 14 points during the stretch. GCU followed with an 11-0 run to grab its first lead of the game at 18-14. The Texans would even the score up at 21-all on a Freddy Hicks 3-pointer and neither team would lead by more than a possession the rest of the half. Hicks finished the game with six points off the bench.

Konstantin Dotsenko, who scored eight points on the night, drilled a 3 at the top of the key to put Tarleton up 31-29 in the final seconds of the first half before GCU even the scored at 31-31 to head to the break.

In the second half, GCU build its largest lead at 58-48 with 8:54 to go in the game. Dotsenko hit his second 3 to cut the deficit to two with five minutes in the game. The Lopes pushed their advantage back up to nine and appeared to coast to a win with just two minutes left. Gipson scored 10 points in the final 90 seconds to give the Texans a chance as his NBA-range 3-pointer went in to cut the lead to two with just 29 seconds on the clock. The Lopes went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line on the ensuing possession to make it a 3-point game and ultimately the final score as a pair of game-tying shot attempts fell short for the Texans.

Only six Texans scored on the evening with Gipson and Small being the only players in double figures. Jonathan Jackson Jr. posted nine points while Shakur Daniel added eight for the Texan offense.

Tarleton will look to bounce back with a series split against Grand Canyon on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Wisdom Gym. The game will be streamed lived on ESPN+.


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