Tarleton big men Jeremiah Wilson (6-8), Eric Williams (6-6) and Monquel Pegues (6-10) combined for 49 points and 37 rebounds to put away pesky, hot shooting St. Gregory's, 83-64,for the Texans' seventh straight season-opening win at Wisdom Gym Saturday night.
Wilson finished with 21 points and 17 boards, Williams had 17 and 13 and Pegues scored 11 and grabbed seven boards for the Texans, who improved to 19-2 in openers under veteran head coach Lonn Reisman.
“I got onto (Pegues) for not getting on the boards and he came out and worked very hard after that,” Reisman said. “If he plays like he did late in the game alongside (Wilson and Williams), we have a chance to be very special.”
Tarleton led by just three at the break, up 39-36, but held the Cavaliers scoreless for the first 5:41 of the second half to stretch the advantage to 47-36.
“That was the key,” Williams said of the defense coming out of the locker room. “I gathered the guys together in the locker room and told them that we had to take control of the game in the first five minutes of the second half, and we did.”
St. Greg's would make one more run, taking advantage of consecutive Tarleton turnovers and hitting back-to-back three-balls to pull within three before the Texans used a 11-2 run to put the Cavs away.
The highlight of the run was an alleyoop pass to Wilson, who slammed the ball home with authority, bringing the Texan bench and the Wisdom Gym crowd to life.
“The oop seemed to really amp us up,” Wilson said. “The crowd got into it and the bench was jumping up and down. At that point, I felt like we were finally in complete control.”
“For just a flash there we saw the potential this group has,” Reisman said of the run. “It was very impressive.”
Reisman wasn't as impressed during the first half, when St. Greg's hit six of their 10 treys to keep it close.
“We were giving up too many wide open three-pointers in the first half,” Wilson said. “In the second half, we played tighter defensively and we helped on the curls to keep them from getting as many good looks.”
In addition to the performance of the big three in the paint, Tarleton picked up 10 points each from Tyrone Cole-Scott and Effran Bryant and nine from Cortney Hill. Both Bryant and Hill dished out five assists, leading the Texans to 18 as a team.
Tarleton committed 11 turnovers while forcing 15, and outscored the Cavs 21-7 off the miscues. The Texans also out-rebounded St. Greg's, 53-37, and scored 46 points in the paint to the Cavs' 16.
Tarleton shot 43.4-percent from the floor, but hit only 6 of 27 (22.2-percent) from downtown. The Texans connected on 11 of 19 (57.9-percent) from the charity stripe. St. Gregory's meanwhile, was 40-percent from the field, 30.3-percent from the arc and 50-percent at the line.
Tarleton, ranked No. 19 in the NABC preseason poll, returns to action when Southwest Assemblies of God visits Wisdom Gym at 8 p.m. Tuesday.