SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, California — Tarleton State took down Cal State Bakersfield to win the SoCal Challenge Sand Division Championship, 59-40, on Wednesday afternoon at the JSerra Pavilion.
The Texans (4-2) won their first multiple-team event (MTE) as a Division I program after reaching the Paradise Jam championship game last season. With the win, it marks the second WAC school to win the challenge with Utah Valley winning the inaugural SoCal Challenge Sand Division Championship in 2021. The Roadrunners became the first Big West program to reach the SoCal Challenge Sand Division Championship.
“I am very proud of our team that they were able to come out to California and play two hard games and come home with a pair of wins, ” said coach Joseph Jones after the celebration. “It means a lot to us to bring home this championship for coach Gillispie.”
Jakorie Smith led all scorers with 17 points while draining a trio of triples to be named the SoCal Challenge Sand Division MVP.
KiAndre Gaddynotched his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He was named to the All-Tournament Team for his performance.
Freshman Emmanuel Innocenti notched his first double-double of his career with a team-high 13 rebounds and 11 points.
For the second straight game, Gaddy won the tip after surrendering the first four of the season. Barnes put the Texans on the board with an early lay-up to give the Texans their first lead of the game. The two teams swapped buckets in the first eight minutes with the Texans holding a 12-7 lead at the 11:36 mark. Gaddy pulled down two of his six first half offensive rebounds in the span as well as adding four points.
Bakersfield broke out for a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the contest, 14-12. The Roadrunners wouldn’t hold it for long as Innocenti tied the game at 14 on a mid-range jumper. Smith countered a CSU-B bucket with a jumper of his own to retie the game at 16. Trailing 18-17, Adam Moussa knocked his first three-pointer of the night that lifted the Texan bench in euphoria.
Tarleton closed with nine more points, including Miles Lewis scoring his first points of the challenge. Smith knocked down his second three of the first half to lead the squad with nine first half points. Gaddy’s seven rebounds led all players.
The Purple and White started the second half with a 9-0 run in the first four minutes to take a 38-24 lead to force the Roadrunners to call a timeout. Lue Williams nailed his first three-pointer of the afternoon during the run. CSU-B cut into the Texan lead responding with a 10-0 run of its own fueled by Ugnius Jarusevicius with five.
The Texans showed the crowd at the JSerra Pavilion just how badly they wanted to return to Texas with the victorious skimboard erupting on a 13-2 run to break the game wide open.
Tarleton State held the Roadrunners to just 16 second half points, to win the Sand Division Championship of the SoCal Challenge, 59-40.
Tarleton 22-for-57 from the floor, and 8-for-21 from three-point range. The Texans won the battle of the boards, 39-27. In the second half, the Texans shot 50 percent (6-for-12) from three-point land.
The Texans will have a week break before heading back on the road to open their WAC slate with at Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, November 19, at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on ESPN+, and Crews will have the radio call for the Texans.