Texans close out season with sweep of UTRGV
EDINBURG – Tarleton Men's Basketball closed out its inaugural Division I season as one of the hottest teams in the Western Athletic Conference as the Texans swept UTRGV on the road to finish with double-digit wins.
The Texans (10-10, 5-7) downed the Vaqueros 69-58 on Saturday at the UTRGV Fieldhouse to win its third straight game and seven of the last nine. The three straight wins are the longest active streak in the WAC. Tarleton isn't eligible for the postseason during the transition and won't advance to the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas next week.
Of Tarleton's five WAC victories, the Texans defeated three-time defending conference champion New Mexico State, 2021 co-WAC champion Utah Valley on the road, and swept a UTRGV team that was voted third in the preseason standings.
"These guys just kept getting tougher and tougher," said head coach Billy Gillispie. "If you're tough, if you play hard, and learn how to play defense, you have a chance to win no matter what. I'm so proud of these guys. It's a testament to how tough these guys have become physically and mentally over the course or the season."
Montre Gipson has been the steady hand for Tarleton's offense all season and the junior guard finished how he started, scoring a game-high 24 points along with seven rebounds and five assists. Gipson scored 19 of his 24 points in the second half after the score was tied at the break. The DeSoto native finished his Texan debut season leading the Texans in scoring at 15.3 points per game.
On a night after the Texans cruised to an 18-point victory at the Bert Ogden Center, the Texans knew they'd get all they could handle from a UTRGV team back playing on its home court on the Vaqueros' senior night.
The Texans had the early advantage to start the game, building a 6-point lead midway through the first half where Freddy Hicks carried the load with nine straight points. 24 hours after the freshman set a career high with 21 points, Hicks followed the performance with 11 points – all of which came in the first half.
Tarleton led 28-23 in the final minutes of the half but UTRGV closed the opening frame on a 5-0 run to tie the score heading into the locker room.
The Texans had a series of large scoring runs in the second half, the first of which was a 6-0 stretch to lead 40-33 with 13:37 left in the game. UTRGV came back to take a 42-40 lead in just two minutes, but the scoring of Gipson and Konstantin Dotsenko took over in the final 10 minutes.
Gipson started a 13-0 game-turning run with a layup and Dotsenko followed with back-to-back 3's The duo combined for 11 of the 13 points during the run to go up 53-42 with 6:13 to go. Dotsenko finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting, with 11 of the points coming in the second half. Dotsenko and Gipson combined for 30 second half points, matching the UTRGV team total in the final 20 minutes.
Senior Jonathan Jackson Jr. put the exclamation point to the sweep with a two-hand dunk on a pass from Tahj Small to go up by nine and close the game out at the free-throw line. Jackson Jr. had four points while Small had five points and a team-high eight rebounds.
Shamir Bogues posted a career-high six assists with two points and two steals. Caleb Golden added four points, Shakur Daniel and Javontae Hopkins each scored two points.