Tarleton State routs Abilene Christian to win the Lou Henson Classic Championship, to host the CIT Semifinals Monday night


STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State Men’s basketball coasted to victory over Abilene Christian, 86-59 to win the championship game of the Lou Henson Classic a part of The CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, presented by BSN SPORTS Wednesday night in Wisdom Gym.

The Texans (25-9) reached their highest season win total since the 2014-15 season when they won 31 games. With the win over the Wildcats (16-18), TSU advances to the CIT semifinals and will host on Monday at 6 p.m. Tarleton finishes the season 3-0 in the I-20 rivalry.

KiAndre Gaddy was named the Lou Henson Classic MVP after he posted his seventh double-double in the first game and a 16-point effort in the title bout. Gaddy posted 16 points, four boards, two steals and an assist against the Wildcats.

For the third-straight night, Traivar Jackson scored in double-figures, this time setting a new career high with 14. Emmanuel Innocenti and Devon Barnes each added 10 to round out the four Texans with double-digit scoring totals.

The Texans started off the first half in control. After the squads had three lead changes and a tie in the first two minutes of play, a lay-up by Gaddy gave the Texans the lead for the whole half. Tarleton took the lead with a 9-0 run which saw Williams sink his first triple of the night giving TSU a 13-5 lead just six minutes into the contest.

Tarleton jumped out to its biggest lead of the half, 29-17 with a 4-0 run by Gaddy and Barnes. The Wildcats offense was never able to get going in the first 20 minutes with Tarleton taking a lead into the break.

Innocenti found the bottom of the net twice from deep to balloon the Texan lead to 37-25 at the break. Innocenti’s triples gave him a team-high 10 points in the first 20 minutes. He also led the team in the half in rebounds (five) and assists (three).

The Texans kept the momentum from the first half with Barnes and Lue accounting for the first five points of the half in the first 40 seconds. Tarleton boasted a 42-25 lead and it would only get bigger from there.

Tarleton would not let the lead drop below 14 for the remainder of the half and nearly held a 20-point lead for the final 13 minutes. The Texans shot an outstanding 20-for-31 from the field after the break. The Texans shot five-for-12 from deep, meaning TSU only missed four shots that weren’t triples in the second half.

Coach Jones played 11 different players, with all of them scoring at least a bucket. Bubu Benjamin made his second and third triples of the season with a pair in the final minutes. Izzy Miles found Jackson for a mid-air alley-oop.

The Texans coasted in the second half to the 86-59 victory, Tarleton’s largest victory over the Wildcats since 2006 when TSU won by 32 in Wisdom Gym.

Tarleton won their 34th game as a Division I program when shooting over 50 percent, shooting at a 52.3 percent clip. The Purple and White shot nine-for-24 from behind the arc, 37.5 percent. The Texans won the battle of the boards, 36-31 and the turnover battle, 10-7.

Tarleton State will advance to be one of the final four standing teams in the CIT presented by BSN SPORTS. The Texans will host their semifinal game against IPFW on Monday night at 6 p.m. at Wisdom Gym. The winner will advance to the Championship and play the winner of Alabama A&M and Norfolk State.

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