BARTLESVILLE, Okla.—Marlin Cloudy drained a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left to put Tarleton on top of Central Oklahoma, for good, back on January 3.
With a lot more at stake in the semifinals of the Lone Star Conference Tournament, Head Coach Lonn Reisman and the Texans have a big momentum swing after their thrilling one-point victory over Northeastern State on Wednesday.
“I have been through this before (the thrilling win from Wednesday night),” said Reisman. “When you get into March Madness, you see a lot of these one point games and it’s just a fight for survival. I think we’ll be charged up and confident, but we have a lot of respect for Central Oklahoma.”
Tarleton looks to make a jump into the Lone Star Conference Championship game, but will first need to get past the Bronchos (23-5), again. Tip off at Bruin Field House tonight is set for 8:30 p.m. Abilene Christian and Texas A&M - Commerce meet in the early semifinal at 6 p.m. The winners will fight for the conference championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Cloudy and Jefrey Henfield struggled from the floor in the 65-64 defeat of Northeastern State in the first round of the tournament, and will look to comeback and lead the Texans against a team they fared well against earlier this season.
Cloudy led the team with 14 points in the 73-70 overtime win, while Henfield added 12 of his own.
“They (Cloudy and Henfield) are both very intelligent players,” said Reisman. “I think that really helps them to come back and have a positive game. I think both of them will play hard tonight and I think they’ll play well. I have a lot of confidence in both of them.”
Central Oklahoma reached the semifinal showdown by knocking off Angelo State, 85-75, on Wednesday.
The Bronchos, champions of the North Division and No. 5 in this week’s South Central Region poll, are led by North Player of the Year Sam Belt.
Belt cashed in for 23 points when the Bronchos visited Stephenville, with all of them coming in second half and overtime. He tallied 33 points against ASU in the quarterfinals.
“Sam (Belt) is a great player, he has been in this league for four years,” said Reisman. “I think you just have to do the very best job you can to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible, because he is a difficult man to stop. We will play man-to-man defense like we always have and whoever stops the other one from scoring is going to win the game. I think the biggest factor will be turnovers,” said Reisman. “We can’t have 20 turnovers. We have to take care of the ball.”