WICHITA – Tarleton held Wichita State to its lowest rebounding figure in more than three years but turnovers and a cold shooting stroke foiled the Texans’ upset bid on Tuesday inside Charles Koch Arena.
The Shockers pulled away in the second half to secure a 65-51 defeat of Tarleton.
After trailing 29-22 at halftime, consecutive 3-pointers from Freddy Hicks and Montre Gipson trimmed the deficit to five points at 37-32 with just under 14:00 remaining. The Shockers countered with a 12-4 scoring run out of a timeout to take control of the stretch run. Tarleton did not get within nine points the rest of the way.
Tarleton’s guard-heavy rotation pressured the Shockers high and crashed the boards hard to limit Wichita State (3-0) to 27 rebounds – its lowest total since Nov. 6, 2018. The Texans snagged a season high 31 boards – eight offensive – with all eight players who entered the game finishing with at least two. Shakur Daniel tied for the game-high in rebounds with six while also leading Tarleton with four assists.
Despite the progress on the glass, the Texans struggled to find their rhythm at the other end. Tarleton shot a season-low 38 percent from the field and went just 3-16 from downtown. The Texans also gave the ball away a season-worst 20 times and were forced into five shot clock violations during the opening 20 minutes.
Gipson led Tarleton in scoring for the second time this season with 16 points on 6-12 shooting. The 5-11 guard has now shot at-or-above 50 percent from the field 14 times in his two-year run in Purple and White. He ranks seventh in the Western Athletic Conference in scoring at 16.7 points per outing.
Tahj Small joined him in shooting 50 percent from the field, as the fellow senior added eight points on 4-8 attempts from the field. Hicks (9 points), Noah McDavid (6 points) and Javontae Hopkins (4 points) each notched season-high scoring marks.
Tarleton hung with Wichita the whole way in the first half in spite of the unforced errors.
Gillespie substituted Shamir Bogues, who netted a career-best 20 points at No. 3 Kansas on Friday, for freshman McDavid following the game’s first whistle. The 6-5 guard took the ball to the rack two possessions later to draw contact and knock down a pair at the line for Tarleton’s first points.
McDavid was a catalyst behind a 9-0 run that transformed an early 7-2 hole into a 12-7 Texan advantage at the 12-minute mark. He drained a crossover jumper from the right key to make the score 7-5 and kickstart a stretch that saw Tarleton score on four straight possessions.
The Dallas native played a career-high 32 minutes and started the second half.
The first half then manifested as a game of runs. Wichita State responded with a 9-0 spurt of its own to regain the initiative at 16-12 only for Tarleton to punch back with six straight points – two by Gipson and four from Bogues. The Texans led as late as 3:31 in the period at 20-19 but the edge would be their last. The Shockers ripped off 10 consecutive points as the giveaways reared their ugly head. Tarleton turned it over on five of its six possessions during that stretch.
Tarleton out-rebounded Wichita State 18-12 in the first half and held the hosts to 31 percent shooting.
A pair of free throws from McDavid kept Tarleton within striking distance at 40-34 with 11:20 to go. The Shockers then got hot from long range, packaging a trio of 3-pointers around an and-one finish off two offensive rebounds to swell their lead to 52-40 with under 8:00 to play.
The Texans held Wichita State to a season-low 10 made field goals inside the arc and 42 percent shooting. Tarleton also got into the bonus for the first time this season after drawing seven Shockers fouls in each frame.
The team went 12-14 at the charity stripe and has shot better than 80 percent on its foul attempts in its last two contests.
The loss drops Tarleton’s overall record to 0-3 – its first winless start through three games since 2007 – though each game has been a competitive defeat on the road against quality opposition. Like the nationally-ranked Jayhawks, Wichita State is a perennial NCAA Tournament program. The Shockers have gone to the Big Dance eight times since 2012. Stanford, whom Tarleton led at halftime and by seven points in the second half of a 62-50 loss on Nov. 9, has posted a winning record in four of its five seasons under head coach Jerod Haase.
With its grueling three-game road trip to begin the year concluded, Tarleton gets a much-needed pit stop in Stephenville. The Texans host NAIA member Paul Quinn at 7 p.m. on Friday in Wisdom Gym for their regular season home opener.