Effran Bryant and Devon Hills stepped up on the offensive end in the second half and tough defensive play took care of the rest as Tarleton State (5-1) bounced back from its first loss with a 61-47 thumping of Northeastern State (2-3) in Lone Star Conference crossover play at Wisdom Gym Thursday night.
Bryant drilled back-to-back three-point field goals after Northeastern had pulled within five early in the second half and the Texans never looked back on their way to winning at least five of their first six games for the seventh time in eight years.
“(Bryant) gave us a big lift with those two shots,” Tarleton head coach Lonn Reisman said. “They had just hit a couple big shots to stay in the game and then he answered. I thought that little stretch in the first few minutes of the second half was the key.”
Bryant finished with 11 points - all after halftime - while Hills had 19, including 13 after the break. They were joined in double figures by teammate Jeremiah Wilson, who just missed a double-double with 11 points and eight boards. Wilson also blocked a pair of shots on consecutive NSU possessions to keep the Riverhawks from gathering any kind of momentum down the stretch.
“I was very pleased with the play of (Wilson) tonight,” Reisman said. “He worked hard and won a lot of key battles in the paint.”
Point guard Corin Henry had a rare slow scoring night, but that didn’t prevent him from having a solid game organizing Tarleton’s offensive attack. The junior scored just three points but distributed six assists and never turned the ball over in 35 minutes of action.
“He’s such a complete player,” Reisman said of Henry. “He understands how to have a good game even when he’s not shooting the ball well. All he cares about is winnning.”
Wale Ogunoye added eight points for the Texans while Donta Smith chipped in with five and was second on the team with five boards.
Tarleton State saw a 12-point lead disappear two nights prior in a 76-72 loss to rival Central Oklahoma, but there would be no late collapse this time.
That’s because the Texans shot a perfect 5-5 from beyond the arc in the second half, when they were 50-percent from the field.
“Our new players are still learning our system and trying to get better,” said Reisman. “As our guys continue to figure out our system and it becomes more fluid, you will see us finish off good teams.”
Jason Jones led all scorers with 19 points, but nobody else scored more than six for Northeastern, which has now dropped seven straight to Tarleton.
The final score made the game appear closer than it really was. Northeastern scored five points in the final 44 seconds after the Texans built a 19-point lead.