Call it an upset. Call it revenge. Most importantly, call it a win for the No. 11 Tarleton State Texans.
Led by a career-high 20-point performance from EJ Reed, the No. 11 Texans handed No. 4 Angelo State its first conference loss of the season Wednesday night with a 72-68 win in front of a packed house at Wisdom Gym.
Reed got the Texans rolling right out of the gate with the first nine Tarleton points and 12 of the Texans first 14 points to give the Texans a 14-6 lead over the first seven minutes. After Angelo cut the lead to five, Nosa Ebomwonyi drilled a triple to start a run of seven unanswered to put Tarleton up 22-10.
Tarleton State continued to pour it on in the opening half to extend the lead to a game-high 18 points at 36-18 with 2:21 left in the opening half. The Texans would eventually take a 36-20 lead into halftime.
The Texans maintained a double-figure lead throughout the first 9:50 of the second half, but Angelo State pulled it to single digits at 10:10 to put the pressure on the Texans - and Tarleton State answered the call.
Damion Clemons drilled a 3-ball off a pass from Michael Hardge to ignite the Tarleton crowd and put the Texans back up by 12 and give the Texans cushion to withstand a 9-4 Angelo run to pull within seven with 4:24. At 58-51, Hardge went to the line for two free throws and, after a free throw from ASU, Ebomwonyi drilled another triple as Wisdom Gym erupted once again with Tarleton on top 63-52.
Over the next 2:30, Angelo State pulled within three points at 67-64 but Tarleton State sealed the deal at the free throw line down the stretch as Hardge hit one, Mo Lee hit two and Ebomwonyi hit two, including the final one to bring the game to its final score.
Reed's first 20-point game as a Texan led Tarleton while Lee scored 18 on 6-9 shooting from the floor and 6-9 shooting from the charity stripe. Hardge cracked double figures with 11 while Ebomwonyi scored eight. Clemons added seven off the bench while TaShawn Mabry (5), Deshawn Riddick (2) and Davene Carter (1) rounded out the Tarleton scoring.
As a team, Tarleton State shot 59 percent from the field, including 42 percent from downtown, and 60 percent at the line. The Texan defense held Angelo State, who entered the game averaging 89.1 points per game, to just 37 percent from the field and 25 percent from downtown.
The win is also the 600th all-time head coaching win for Lonn Reisman, who has won 579 at Tarleton to go along with 21 in his one season as the head coach at Connors State Junior College.
Tarleton State will go for its ninth straight win Saturday night when the Texans visit Texas A&M-Kingsville for an 8 p.m. contest at the Steinke Center.