The Tarleton State Texans “desperately needed” a game. Soon after tip off, the Rhema Bible College Eagles were just feeling desperate.
The Texans, who built a 21-0 lead in the game’s first eight minutes, cruised to a thoroughly dominating 88-42 win over the Eagles Saturday. The game was added late last week after Tarleton’s second straight road game had been cancelled due to weather, and it marked Tarleton’s 32nd consecutive home victory.
Head coach Lonn Reisman warned his team that “stranger things have happened” than a team like the Eagles upsetting a Division II power like the Texans. But David didn’t knock off Goliath this time.
John Davis led a balanced Tarleton attack with 16 points and 11 rebounds, both game-highs. Four other Texans scored in double figures — starters Dan Eichel (14), Mike Daniels (13) and Tanner Morgan (10) and reserve Tim Williams (10).
Tarleton dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the undersized Eagles 49-21. The Texans shot 55 percent from the field, and 56 percent from beyond the arc. They limited the Eagles to 29 percent shooting for the game, and allowed just 10 points in the first half.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit to even come down here,” Reisman said, noting the foul weather between Stephenville and Broken Arrow, Okla.
The Eagles were blindsided from the start, though, as Jeremy Gilbert fed Eichel for an easy bucket right out of the gate. Time after time, Tarleton’s defensive intensity created fast break opportunities, and patient passing led to open looks on the perimeter.
Four minutes into the game, the Texans were up 9-0, then Davis hit a three-pointer. Williams had a layup in transition off a Rhema miss, then slammed home a pretty feed that Effran Bryant had laid up on the glass. The Eagles were reeling until a three-point play by Tyron Hall put them on the board with 11:11 left in the first half.
Tarleton scored 15 straight, hitting from all over the floor. Rhema’s leading scorer, Gabe White, hit a jumper with 4:30 left in the half, but Robert Hartfield answered with a three-pointer for the Texans.
That was White’s only bucket, though, as he fouled out minutes later. The Eagles, whose hopes of a comeback from the 43-10 deficit were slim anyway, were dashed further.
Rhema shot the ball much better in the second half — though it would’ve been hard for them not to improve, given that they made just four field goals in the first half. They missed all eleven of their three-point attempts in the first half, but hit six in the second.
Reisman said that although Tarleton’s stifling defense seemed to let up in the second half, it was a good game to get everyone onto the floor. Guard Kenneth Cage, who injured his knee, was dressed out but did not play.
The Texans will soon be back into Lone Star Conference play, and the tougher opponents that brings.
“It’s gut-busting time now,” Reisman said.
The Texans hit the road Wednesday, when they take on West Texas A&M. Tip off is at 8 p.m.