Tarleton State’s record-breaking season comes to an end in CIT Semifinals


STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton State Texans saw their season come to an end at the hands of the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons, 73-72 in the semifinal round of The College Insider.com Postseason Tournament presented by BSN Sports on Monday night in Wisdom Gym.

The Texans’ record-breaking season broke the D1 era record with 25 wins and 16 conference wins. Tarleton reached the semifinals of both the WAC Tournament and the CIT presented by BSN SPORTS for the first time in school history. Tarleton State hosted its first division I postseason with hosting the CIT the past two weeks. With the win, the Mastodons advanced to the championship to take on Norfolk State.

For the first time this season, Adam Moussa led the Texans in scoring with 16 points, 11 coming in the second half alone. Four Texans scored in double-figures with Moussa leading the 26-point bench effort. Devon Barnes added 14 points while Jakorie Smith (13) and KiAndre Gaddy (10) also reached double digits.

Smith led the team with seven boards and three steals. Moussa notched a game-high four assists and tied Traivar Jackson for the team lead in blocks.

In a high scoring the first half, the Texans led for all but the first 44 seconds. With the Mastodons leading, 4-3, Barnes gave the Texans the lead for the remainder of the half sinking the first Texan triple of the game. Barnes claimed the defensive board and took it coast-to-coast for his own mini 5-0 run.

With the Texans leading, 13-10, back-to-back buckets by the Texan bench the Texans led, 18-10. Izzy Miles drained his fifth three of the season followed by a Moussa mid-range jumper. Purdue FW executed an 8-0 run via a pair of triples and a layup to knot the game at 18.

Tarleton led 24-20, before using their longest run of the half to open up to their biggest lead of the first 20. Originated by a Jackson three-point play, Moussa followed with a triple almost a minute and a half later. The final point of the Texans run came on Smith making the back end of his two free throw attempts, to give the Purple and White a 31-20 lead.

Yet again, the Mastodons closed their deficit quickly with Anthony Roberts nailing a pair of back-to-back triples to cut the Texans lead to just five with just over six minutes remaining in the half, 33-26. The teams swapped baskets over the next few minutes with Tarleton’s lead never growing above eight. A mini 4-0 run by Smith gave the Texans a 39-30 lead with 2:38 to go.

In the final two minutes, Purdue FW outscored the Texans 6-2 with Tarleton taking a 41-36 lead into the break. Both teams shot 45 percent from the floor, with the edge in triples going to Purdue FW. No individuals scored more than nine in the first 20.

The Mastodons controlled the second half coming right out of the locker room. Purdue FW cut its deficit to just a point with back-to-back buckets, 41-40. Three-pointers by Smith and Williams gave the Texans their largest lead of the half, 48-42, with 14:39 remaining.

Purdue FW battled over the next eight minutes tying the game five times, but never gaining the lead. With the Texans leading, 58-56, Purdue FW grabbed its first lead after the break on an 11-0 run. Four different players contributed in the run including a triple by Anthony Roberts. The Mastodons reached their largest lead of the night, 67-58.

Tarleton State responded in the final four minutes with a 10-0 run to regain the lead, 70-69. Barnes started the resurgence with a made free throw followed by a pair of Smith free throws. Trailing 69-63, Moussa hit a pull up triple with 1:55 remaining to bring the Texans within three. The Texans forced a Mastodon turnover and Barnes drove the lane for a layup to cut the deficit to one with just 1:24 to go.

After another turnover caused by Williams resulted in Moussa sinking a pair of free throws to take a 70-69 lead with 46 ticks left. The Mastodons drove down the floor for a layup to give the Mastodons the advantage once again. Barnes made a pair of free throws after drawing the foul far from the basket to give the Texans the lead again, 72-71 with 30 remaining.

In the final 30 seconds, the Mastodons found the bottom of the net after a bucket in the paint to take the lead for the final time. The Texans came up the floor where Williams was unable to get his triple to fall, but Moussa grabbed the offensive board. A questionable whistle signaled a timeout called by the Texans that drew confusion on its origin, but alas, the Texans had the ball with 4.82 seconds to go on a sideline inbound. The ball found the hands of Smith but his floating hook shot hit the rim giving the Mastodons the 73-72 victory.

Tarleton State shot 39.3 percent from the floor and 30.4 percent from deep, both marks were bested by the Mastodons. The Texans won the turnover battle yet again, 15-13 but lost the battle of the boards, 40-35.

Head coach Billy Gillispie will resume the head coaching role next season after being extended through the 2025-26 season.

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