Texans’ comeback against Lancers deflated by late call
STEPHENVILLE — It seemed all but over for Tarleton, down nine points with less than a minute remaining. However, with this resilient team, anything is possible.
The Texans made a furious comeback in the final minute, scoring 10 points and getting within a pair with eight seconds left. With all of the momentum and Wisdom Gym rocking, California Baptist's Tre Armstrong missed his second free throw, seemingly giving the Texans a chance to tie the game. A whistle pierced the air to signal a lane violation on Tarleton, giving Armstrong another chance and essentially ending the Texans' hopes at the comeback victory.
California Baptist won 88-84 to improve to 12-6 overall, 2-3 in WAC play, while dropping Tarleton to their third straight defeat, now 8-12 overall, 3-4 in the conference. This was just Tarleton's second loss at home, snapping a six-game winning streak in Wisdom Gym, now 7-2.
Tahj Small had a game-high 23 points, adding seven rebounds and two steals in 38 minutes. It's his fourth 20+ point game of the season and sixth time he's led the team in scoring, tied with Montre Gipson for the most such games this year.
Freddy Hicks joined Small in the 20-point club with 21 points, to go with seven rebounds and three blocks. This marked his third 20+ point game, now his most such games in a single season, surpassing his two his freshman season last year.
It was a back-and-forth start for the two programs to start Thursday night's game, with neither team leading by more than four points through nearly the first 10 minutes. The Lancers held around an 8- to 10-point lead most of the way in the first half, ending the frame on a 7-0 run to lead 40-28 at the break.
The Lancers' lead grew to 13 before Tarleton started chipping away, getting it down to a six-point deficit twice around the 10-minute mark. Later, a 9-2 run by California Baptist made it a 15-point game, their largest lead of the game, as late as the 4:53 mark.
In the final minute with Tarleton trailing 83-74, Gipson cleaned up the offensive glass and got fouled, making both free throws to get within seven. Then Tarleton forced a turnover by Reed Nottage, and Hicks found an open Noah McDavid, who buried the three-pointer to make it 83-79. The Texans fouled Nottage after attempting to get a steal, and the Lancer split the pair to make it 84-79.
Gipson once again drew the foul on the ensuing possession, and once again, made both free throws to make it 84-81. After two free throw makes by CBU, Hicks pulled up from deep on the fast break and nailed the three-ball, making it a two-point game. The lane violation gave way to a desperation three-point shot down two possessions, ending a wild finish that went the Lancers' way.
There were 76 free throw attempts between the two teams due to 54 fouls in the game. CBU outshot Tarleton 25-of-48 (.521) to 25-of-64 (.391), the Texans earning 16 more field goal attempts with a six-turnover advantage (16-10) and 17 offensive rebounds. Tarleton doubled their point total half-to-half from 28 to 56.
McDavid totaled 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, making both of his three-point attempts, adding six rebounds and two steals. Gipson scored all 12 of his points in the second half in just 13 minutes of play with an 8-of-8 mark from the stripe, plus three assists. Jayshawn Moore led the bench with six points and five rebounds.
Daniel Akin led the Lancers with 22 points on 5-of-9 shooting, plus 12-of-14 from the free throw line, adding 14 rebounds and six blocks. Nottage led their bench with 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 3-of-6 from distance, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Texans now await the arrival of the Seattle U Redhawks, who are an undefeated 5-0 in the WAC, 14-4 overall. They're on a six-game winning streak, beating Abilene Christian on the road 72-62 on Thursday night.