Southwestern Assemblies of God (2-0) outscored Tarleton State (0-1) by 23 points after halftime and shocked the Texans 73-60 at Wisdom Gym Monday night, handing them their first season-opening loss since 2001 and only their third under 25th-year head coach Lonn Reisman.
"I haven't been on this side of (season openers) very much. It reminds you to be humble," said Reisman, whose other season-opening losses were to Grand Canyon in 1995 and Wingate in 2001. "We beat Baylor (in an exhibition) and TCU (in a regular-season opener, both in 2006); now I know what Baylor and TCU went through."
Tarleton last loss in a home opener was 20 years ago - to St. Edward's in 1992-93.
The Texans, who led the nation in scoring defense by surrendering just 56 points per game last season, allowed 48 in the second half alone to the Lions, members of the NAIA Red River Conference. Tarleton actually led by as many as 16 with 6:48 left in the first half before being outscored by 29 the rest of the way.
Dominique Rambo led SAGU with 25 points, five steals and four assists, while Mike Nwelue doubled up with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Rambo had 13 points and four of his assists after the break when SAGU outscored Tarleton 48-25 to overcome a 35-25 halftime deficit.
The Texans were led by Coleman Furst with 15 points. The junior guard had the team's first five points of each half. De'Andre Upchurch scored 14 and Chuck Guy netted 12.
Tarleton got only three field goals and seven total points from its four post players, and shot a paltry 34.6 percent from the floor including only 21.4 percent in the second half.
"We have to get our big guys more touches inside," said Reisman. "Some of that comes with chemistry as we get more comfortable with who's in there together and who we're looking for."
SAGU won the rebounding battle 41-30 and had 17 second-chance points to Tarleton's five.
The Texans led 45-39 after a dunk by Damion Clemons with 14:28 to play, but the Lions called a timeout then poured in the next 10 points with four coming from Nwelue and three plus an assist from Rambo.
Upchurch hit a 3-pointer to slow Tarleton's bleeding with 10:26 left, but the Texans would not score again until a pair of Brian Word free throws with 5:07 left and would not hit another field goal until Upchurch scored with 2:17 to go. SAGU outscored the Texans 16-4 between Upchurch's field goals, which came eight minutes, nine seconds apart. The Texans made just six field goals after halftime.
Tarleton pulled within 70-60 on a dunk by Jon Cathey-Macklin with 1:24 left, but didn't score again.
The last non-NCAA opponent to beat Tarleton was Texas Wesleyan in 2000-01.
"Some people will look at this and think we just don't have a chance this year," said Reisman, who has won more than 500 games at Tarleton. "I don't feel that way. I think you have to use losses as teaching tools, and that's what we'll do."
Word had eight points and seven rebounds for Tarleton, but the tandem of Guy, Upchurch and Word combined to hit just 32.4 percent. Word was just 2-13 with half his points coming from the foul stripe. Upchurch was 3-6 from outside the arc, and Guy had four assists.
Tarleton hosts its annual Texan Tipoff Classic this weekend, facing Texas-Permian Basin at 7 p.m. Friday and East Central (Okla.) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Fellow LSC member Texas A&M-Commerce is also in the classic, facing ECU at 5 p.m. Friday and UTPB at 5 p.m. Saturday.