STEPHENVILLE – Charleston Southern scored five straight points over the final 1:40 to sully Tarleton’s return to Wisdom Gym and steal a 59-57 victory on Sunday.
The Texans led for nearly 12 minutes of the second half after trailing 30-28 at the intermission and appeared primed to snatch their second win of the 2021-22 campaign.
Tarleton assumed its largest lead of the evening at 48-41 with 9:10 remaining. CSU responded with an 11-3 scoring run, but Tarleton stymied the Buccaneers’ surge behind four straight free throws from Montre Gipson and a putback layup by Shamir Bogues to lead it 57-54 under the 2:00 mark before CSU made its decisive run.
After holding CSU center Sadarius Bowser scoreless all evening, the 6-9 big man got loose for four points in a 20-second spurt to give the Buccaneers a one-point lead. Tarleton tied up CSU with 30 seconds to go to regain possession in time to draw up one final play. But the Texans were unable to get a clean look at the basket as a contested fadeaway by Shakur Daniel clanged off the front iron with two seconds left and forced Tarleton to foul.
The Buccaneers scored on six of their final eight possessions to seal the win.
Tarleton connected on 16-18 attempts (89 percent) at the foul line but shot 35 percent from the field (19-54) and finished with just three makes from downtown.
Freddy Hicks led Tarleton at both ends of the court, tallying 16 points along with a game-high nine rebounds. Hicks scored nine of his points – a season high – in the second half.
The 6-6 swingman muscled home two straight finishes inside to give Tarleton its second lead of the evening at 35-33 early in the second half. Hicks later canned a step back jumper from the right key to keep Tarleton in front 41-37 with 12:00 left.
Bogues, Gipson and fellow guard Tahj Small each finished with 12 points. Both Bogues and Gipson snagged seven rebounds while Daniel added six to round out Tarleton’s list of individual performers.
Gipson has now scored in double figures 20 times in his Texan career. Small followed up a 25-point outburst at No. 3 Gonzaga on Monday with his fifth consecutive double digit scoring effort.
All five of Tarleton’s starters played at least 33 minutes. Hicks went the full 40-minute circuit while Gipson and Bogues each eclipsed 38 minutes. Guards Javontae Hopkins and Noah McDavid were the only other players to enter for Tarleton.
Pace of play gradually swung in favor of the team in purple and white over the course of the first half. CSU came out of the gate red hot, knocking down 3-6 attempts from long range to build an 11-2 lead just over five minutes into the game. But clean looks from behind the arc were far and few between the rest of the way for the Buccaneers – CSU finished 6-25 (24 percent) for the game – as Tarleton settled in and began contesting looks.
From there, the contest morphed into a grinder as the game was largely played in the half court. Neither team led by more than seven points the rest of the way, as the teams alternated leads eight times and were even on the scoreboard on five occasions.
The loss drops Tarleton’s overall record to 1-7 while CSU moves to 3-6.
The teams were even on the glass at 36 rebounds apiece. Tarleton turned the Buccaneers over 14 times and had 11 giveaways of its own. The Texans have posted a positive turnover differential in all-but-two of their games thus far.
Tarleton played its first home game in 16 days following three straight road affairs and six-of-seven away from Stephenville to begin the year. The Texans continue a three-game homestand vs. Dallas Christian at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Wisdom Gym.