Texans improve to 5-0 with pair of weekend wins

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Damion Clemons came off the bench Saturday night to account for 15 points, incuding this three late in the first half of the Texans' 81-61 win over Northwest Nazarene.

Tarleton took advantage of a pair of weekend home games to improve its season mark to 5-0 at its own Thanksgiving Classic.

The No. 8 ranked Texans eased past Pittsburg State Friday night, 65-59, then came back and hammered Northwest Nazarene 81-61 in Saturday’s tournament finale.

Tarleton (4-0) and Pittsburg State (1-4) battled through a nail biter Friday and the Texans were forced to play from behind after going into halftime trailing 30-27.

Pittsburg State continued to build on its lead in the second half to extend it to 35-29, but a 3-pointer from Michael Hardge cut the Gorilla lead in half and started a 7-0 Tarleton run to put the Texans back on top 36-35.

After a quick lead change, EJ Reed knocked down a pair of free throws to start another Texan push and extend the lead to 43-37 with 12:02 left in the game. Nosa Ebomwoni capped off the quick Tarleton surge with a 3-ball from the right wing.

The Gorillas scored on their next possession and the Texan lead never got higher than five until the 6:33 mark in the second half when Reed hit another pair of free throws to extend the lead to 54-47 and start a 6-2 Texan surge, which Reed capped off with a tip in at 4:20.

Over the next 3:30, Pittsburg State cut the Tarleton lead to as low as four and had a chance to inch even closer with 1:08 left on the clock. The Gorilla point guard was fouled on a drive but could not convert either free throw. TaShawn Mabry grabbed the board for Tarleton and Jones and Carter combined to go 4-4 at the stripe over the next minute.

Pitt State tipped one in at the buzzer for their only points in the final 1:08. The Texans outscored the Gorillas 38-29 in the second half to complete the comeback.

Reed set a new career high with a team-leading 15 points off the bench on 3-of-4 shooting from the field and 9 of 10 from the charity stripe. Michael Hardge added 12 points while Lee connected for 11. Mabry scored eight in his second career start while Carter (6), Jones (5), Hamilton (5) and Ebomwonyi (3) rounded out the Tarleton scoring.

In Saturday’s nightcap at Wisdom Gym, the Texans shot a torrid 59 percent from the field to decimate the Crusaders from Idaho.

The Texans didn’t get a field goal for the first four-and-a-half minutes, but took the lead just 50 seconds later when Nosa Ebomwonvi nailed a three-pointer to set TSU in front 7-6.

From there, Tarleton took off on a 12-2 streak, started by seven straight from Damion Clemons and capped by a three and a lay-in by TaShawn Mabry to give the Texans a double-digit lead at 22-12.

The Crusaders narrowed the gap to six with a trey from Matyas Hering at the 6:47 mark in the opening half, before Ebomvonvi nailed a put-back followed by a pair of freebies from Michael Hardge.

To put an exclamation point in the opening half, Davene Carter slammed home a dunk to put Tarleton in front 39-25.

The Crusaders slipped even further behind in the second half, shooting just 39 percent from the field against a smothering TSU defense.

Malcolm Hamilton and Clemons led the offensive attack Saturday with 15 points each. Mabry added 12 and six rebounds, Mo Lee also notched six boards and five assists to go with his 10 points.

The Texans are back in action Tuesday facing Arlington Baptist in the 7:30 nightcap of a TexAnn-Texan double-header.