No. 18 Tarleton State (23-4) won the Lone Star Conference South Division championship and has claimed more victories than any TexAnn team since the university joined the NCAA in 1994-95.
Those accomplishments have the TexAnns headed back to the NCAA Playoffs for the second straight season and third time in school history, all under eighth-year head coach Ronnie Hearne.
Tarleton will be the No. 3 seed in the eight-team South Central Region tournament that is being hosted by No. 1 seed Northeastern State at Jack Dobbins Fieldhouse in Tahlequah, Okla.
The TexAnns begin tournament action at 2:30 p.m. Saturday against No. 6 Southeastern Oklahoma State. The teams split a pair of nailbiters already this year as SOSU hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to win in Stephenville in conference crossover play and Tarleton won 63-61 in last week’s LSC Championship semifinals.
The TexAns were edged in double overtime by Central Oklahoma the next day and UCO lost to Texas Woman’s in a one-point thriller in the LSC tourney final.
UCO came out as the No. 5 seed and will play No. 4 Washburn in Saturday’s regional quarterfinals. The winner faces either Northeastern or No. 8 Texas-Permian Basin, the champion of the Heartland Conference.
Texas Woman’s earned the No. 7 seed and opens against No. 2 Northwest Missouri State, the champion of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The winner faces Tarleton or SOSU.
The semifinals are set for 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and the championship for 7 p.m. Monday. The champ advances to the Elite Eight.
Tarleton has never won a national playoff game. The TexAnns were defeated by Emporia State in the opening round of both the 2006 and 2010 regionals.