Tarleton State gears up to host Purdue FW in CIT Semifinals on Monday Night


STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton State Texans will host the semifinal round of The College Insider.com Postseason Tournament presented by BSN Sports against Purdue Fort Wayne on Monday at 6 p.m. at Wisdom Gym.

Wisdom Gym hosted the Lou Henson Classic last week, one of the four Classics in the CIT presented by BSN SPORTS. The Texans won the title after a pair of double-digit wins against Texas Southern and Abilene Christian. KiAndre Gaddy earned the Lou Henson MVP Award after notching his seventh double-double of the season in the first game and leading the team with 14 points in the second game. Gaddy also posted four boards and two steals against the Wildcats.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ with Byron Anderson and Scott Garner on the call. Kyle Crews will have the call on the Tarleton Sports Radio Network. General Admission tickets are still available for $15, All Tarleton State students, faculty and staff receive free entry but need to claim tickets.

Tarleton State is enjoying its best season in the D1 era with a 25-9 overall record and a program best 16-4 mark in conference play. The program has totaled its most wins since a 31-win season in the 2014-15 season. Acting head coach Joseph Jones was named the WAC Coach of the Year after filling in for coach Gillispie after the fourth game this season. Jakorie Smith became the first Texan to earn First-Team All-WAC honors. Senior Gaddy was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a selection to the WAC All-Defensive Team. Emmanuel Innocenti earned a nod to each the All-Freshman and All-Defensive Teams. The Texans reached the WAC Semifinals for the first time in program history.

Traivar Jackson has been on fire in the postseason. He is averaging 12 points in the past three games, recording at least 10 in each game. Jackson has set new single-game career highs in two of the three games, most recently with 14 against Abilene Christian last week. Jackson is a junior college transfer where he scored 10 points in 60 of his 61 games.

The CIT is one of four major postseason tournaments for NCAA Division I programs. Due to the Texans still being in their reclassification process, Tarleton is not eligible by current NCAA rules to compete in NCAA-sanctioned postseasons, the NCAA Tournament and the NIT. The CIT was a longstanding tournament before COVID-19, running tournaments from 2009 to 2019. The 2024 field will be the revival of the 10-year event.

Stephenville is no stranger to hosting postseason tournaments. Since 1988, Tarleton State has hosted 10 Division II and NAIA regional and district tournaments. In addition, Wisdom Gym hosted a 1992 NAIA National Tournament game. Tarleton last hosted a postseason tournament in 2015 when they hosted the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament where the Texans won the regional championship. Wisdom has hosted the South Central Regional four times, and the Purple and White own a 7-3 record in those games. Wisdom Gym has seen the Texans win two regional titles, four NAIA District 8 Championships and a Lou Henson Classic Championship. In all, the Texans are 21-4 in postseason games inside of Wisdom Gym.

Purdue Fort Wayne will face off against the Texans for the first time in program history. The Mastodons enter the semifinals after a win in their first game against Bowling Green State, 77-75. Both teams are searching for their first trip to the CIT finals.

The Mastodons hail from the state of Indiana just over 1,100 miles away from Wisdom Gym. Purdue FW competes in the Horizon League and defeated NCAA Tournament Cinderella, Oakland Golden Grizzlies by 20 on the road earlier this season. Oakland bounced the eighth-seeded Mastodons in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

The winner of the semifinal round will play for the championship against Norfolk State, likely to be played on Wednesday, March 27. If Tarleton State wins on Monday, they could be chosen to host the championship game on that Wednesday.

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