Hamilton’s 23 Points Propels No. 4 Texans over Hardrockers
By Travis M. Smith – @travis5mith
Texan News Sports Editor
STEPHENVILLE – No. 4 (11-0) Tarleton State closed out 2014 the same way they started, defeating the (3-10) South Dakota Mines Hardrockers 74-51 Tuesday night at Wisdom Gym.
In a game dominated by the Texan defense, the Hardrockers managed to get to within 10 points late in the second half. Malcolm Hamilton took the game into his own hands, scoring 13 straight Texan points to reclaim a 20-point lead. Hamilton finished with a game-high 23 points.
Tarleton’s first game of 2014 was also a home victory against South Dakota Mines, winning 79-68 on Jan 4 during its 18-0 start of the 2013-14 campaign.
The Texans entered the game ranked No. 4 in the nation with an unblemished 10 win, 0 loss record, and having won 39 of 42 since the start of the 2013-14 season. Defensive pressure continued tonight, as the Hardrockers committed 22 turnovers and shot just 33% from the field. Tarleton is one of only 9 remaining unbeaten teams in DII, leaning on its No. 2 ranked scoring defense which is only allowing 59.0 points per game.
Davene Carter won the tip and a seconds later received a textbook alley-oop pass from Michael Hardge. However, both teams struggled early on offense. The Texans failed to take advantage of several scoring opportunities, while the Hardrockers could not find a way to break the Texan full court press.
Another Hardge assist, this time finding EJ Reed, put the Texans into the double-digits and forced the Hardrockers to call their second timeout. Tarleton led 11-3 with 16:04 remaining in the half. South Dakota Mines’ Calvin Thomas hit 1 of 2 from the charity stripe, ending an 11-0 TSU run. During the TSU scoring run lasting 5:31, the Hardrockers committed 5 turnovers and were 0-9 from the field.
Malcolm Hamilton drove the lane and scored his second bucket of the night with just under 10 min left in the half to give TSU another double digit lead, 17-6. TSU had already forced 9 Hardrocker turnovers.
After South Dakota Mines ended a second 5 minute scoring drought, Nosa Ebomwonyi hits his second triple and TSU led 28-10 with 4:20 to play in the half. TSU closed out strong and took a 33-14 lead into the half. The Texans high-pressure defense forced 13 turnovers and held the Hardrockers to a pitiful 24% shooting from the field.
After TaShawn Mabry opened the second half with a three-pointer, SDSMT went on a 10-0 run to close the gap to 36-24 in Tarleton’s favor. Malcolm Hamilton’s power dunk in the lane ended the run and gave TSU a 38-24 lead with 16:09 left in the contest.
The two teams found their mojo on offense and traded baskets for much of the second half. Tarleton hit 4 straight field goals to widen the lead back out to 17. The Hardrockers trailed the Texans with 10:15 remaining, 51-34.
Another scoring run by the Hardrockers combined with a Texan scoring drought tightened the score to 51-41. Hamilton stole an errant Hardrocker pass and went coast to coast to end the Texan skid. A pair of Hamilton free throws a few second later gave the Texans a 55-41 lead.
Hamilton took the game into his own hands for a stretch, scoring 13 straight Texan points and outscoring the entire Hardrocker squad by 10 points during his run. The Texans coasted home the last three minutes and change, and notched their eleventh win of the season with a 74-51 victory. Tarleton has now won 12 straight home games.
The Texans return to action Jan 2, to face York College at Wisdom Gym with a 7 p.m. tip-off.