BARTLESVILLE, OK -
Senior Mike Daniels toed the free throw line and buried a pair of clutch free throws with only 3.4 seconds remaining to lift Tarleton State to a 65-64 defeat of Northeastern State in a thrilling quarterfinal showdown in the Lone Star Conference Tournament Wednesday.
Off an inbound, Daniels dribbled the ball around half court and was fouled by NSU point guard Ricky Branham to get to the line.
“I have a lot of confidence in Mike,” said Tarleton coach Lonn Reisman. “We had 3.4 seconds and we were going to get him the ball and let him go to the basket with it. Mike’s a winner. He gives you 100-percent on the floor. I don’t remember Mike taking days off in practice and I don’t remember him taking days off in games. He plays the game with a passion.”
The Texans needed the free throws because Northeastern’s Aaron Arango knocked down a 25-foot 3-pointer to put the River Hawks up 64-63 in the closing seconds.
The Texans found themselves trailing heading into the second half.
With NSU on top 33-28, Tarleton opened the half on a 9-0 run. Northeastern stopped the bleeding momentarily with a deep ball, but the Texans immediately reeled off five more unanswered points.
Terrence Gamble led the way for TSU with a career-high 22 points, four blocked shots and three boards.
Gamble’s previous high was 18 against Midwestern State earlier this season.
“We’ve been working in practice and trying to go inside-outside,” said Reisman. “Terence is 6-10, 260-pounds and very athletic for his size. You are not going to win tournament play just by the outside shots. You have to be able to go inside.”
Eric Williams added 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Avery Patterson tallied 15 points, 13 of them in the second half.
Limar Wilson and Jefrey Henfield struggled for the Texans, combining to go 0-10 from the floor. They did manage to score three free throws between them.
Northeastern was led by Arango with 16 points.
The Texans forced 14 turnovers and translated them into 16 points, while Northeastern scored only six off seven Tarleton miscues.
Tarleton is currently No. 21 in the nation and No. 2 in the South Central Region Rankings behind West Texas A&M. The Buffaloes were upset by Texas A&M - Commerce in an earlier quarterfinal on Wednesday, 69-63. Abilene Christian also advanced with a 108-98 double-overtime upset of Southwestern Oklahoma State.
Reisman and Tarleton both improved to 14-8 all-time in the Lone Star Conference tournament, and will face the winner of Central Oklahoma/Angelo State Friday at 8:30 p.m. UCO held a 40-32 halftime lead at press time Wednesday.