LAS VEGAS, Nev. – No. 5 Tarleton State persevered through a second-half surge to knock off No. 12 Drury and remain undefeated at 10-0 with a 64-60 win over the Panthers in the final game of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.
“This team is finding ways to win and that is a trademark of a good team,” said associate head coach Chris Reisman. “Drury is a championship ball club. You have to give them a lot of credit because they came out and executed in the second half. We have to get to the point where we can finish games. It hasn’t always been pretty but they’re finding ways to win, which is what good teams do.”
Drury came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and jumping out to a quick 8-0 lead in the first two minutes.
Michael Hardge came up with an answer at 17:48, however, when the junior point guard connected on a physical jumper in the paint to put Tarleton on the board. The Hardge jumper was the first of 10 unanswered points for the Texans – a run that was also capped off by Hardge with another jumper at the 12:46 mark in the opening half.
That run started a dominant first half for the Texans as Tarleton pushed its lead to as many as 14 with 1:23 left in the half at 33-19 before the Panthers hit a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left to send Tarleton into the break with a 33-22 lead.
In the opening half, Tarleton held Drury to 37 percent from the field, forced eight turnovers and outrebounded the Panthers 13-8. The Texans also won the battle in the paint 14-4 and scored 13 points off Drury’s eight first-half turnovers.
Nosa Ebomwonyi got the scoring started in the second half with a 3-pointer to push the lead to 14 but Drury answered with an 11-1 run over the next five minutes to pull within four at 37-33 with 13:27 left in the game.
Tarleton pushed right back to extend the lead back to 10 at 50-40 but over the next seven minutes would answer back to tie the game at 60-60 with 53 seconds on the clock.
TaShawn Mabry answered the call on the ensuing Tarleton possession when the senior forward from Rocky Mount, North Carolina connected on a contested floater in the paint to put Tarleton up 62-60. On Drury’s next trip down the court, Tarleton forced a turnover that was scooped up by Hardge and allowed Lonn Reisman to call a timeout with 16 seconds left.
Out of the break, Mo Lee was fouled and sent to the line where he hit one free throw to extend the Tarleton lead to three with 15 seconds left.
The Texan defense held as Drury’s leading scorer, Kameron Bundy, hit the back iron on a contested 3-pointer, which went right into the hands of Mabry with four seconds left. Mabry was fouled and hit a free throw on the other end to seal the game for Tarleton.
Mabry led the Texans with 15 points while Lee tallied 14 and Hardge added 11. EJ Reed scored seven off the bench while Davene Carter (5), Malcolm Hamilton (4), Deshawn Riddick (3) and Ebomwonyi (3) rounded out the scoring for Tarleton.
Carter led the team with nine rebounds, coming up one board shy of his third straight game with double-figure rebounds.
The senior from Duncanville was named to the all-tournament team while Lee was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. For the tournament, Carter scored 21 points, grabbed 19 rebounds and blocked seven shots while Mo Lee led the team with 33 points scored to go along with 12 boards.
This win also marks another milestone moment for head coach Lonn Reisman, who earned his first career win against Drury in four all-time games.
Tarleton State will return home for its final game of the 2014 calendar year on December 30 against South Dakota Mines at 7 p.m. in Wisdom Gym.