By Travis M. Smith – @travis5mith
Texan News Sports Editor
STEPHENVILLE – No. 3 (13-1, 1-1) Tarleton State University Texans outplayed (5-9, 0-2) Texas A&M University – Kingsville Javelinas down the stretch in the team’s second Lone Star Conference showdown and first of the season at home. After suffering their first loss of the season in San Angelo on Wednesday night, the Texans showed their toughness and grit in an extremely physical game.
Malcolm Hamilton’s posertizing dunk over 6’ 7” Troy Jones sealed the victory and ignited everyone in Wisdom Gym.
“It was an exciting play but it was a play we had ran twice before. Coach said to attack the basket if the opportunity was there so I did,” Hamilton said about his electrify dunk. “It was an exciting play. We work on pressure situations in practice and any of us can step-up at any time. We are all a team.”
The Texans ended the game on a 17-1 scoring run. Tarleton State was led in scoring by Michael Hardge who led all scorers with 20 points. Hardge made 9 clutch free throws in the last 10 minutes, with 5 coming in the final two.
“You gotta have them. My teammates expect that from me and I expect it from myself,” Hardge said. “Like coach says, free throws are free. We got a couple good plays inside and you have to take the momentum and run with it.”
Mo Lee chipped in 10 and Malcolm Hamilton had 8 points, 6 in the last 3 minutes.
The Texans are now 29-11 since coach Lon Reisman took over the helm, and have won 4 out of the last 5 and 24 out of 27. Tarleton has won 14 straight games at Wisdom Gym dating back to Feb 5, 2014. The Texans will look to add another tally to that number on Wednesday when the Mustangs of Midwestern State come to town.
Carter wins the tip and Mo Lee knocks down two free throws to get the Texans on the board first. Kingsville jumped out to a quick 9-6 lead during the first five minutes of play. Malcolm Hamilton drove the lane and a jump stop followed by a jump shot gave the Texans a 10-9 lead with 12:38 to go in the half.
Back to back Carter buckets were followed by DJ Weathers’ three ball for the Javelinas. Michael Hardge responded on the Texans next possession with a triple of his own from the top of the arch. The Texans reclaimed a one-point lead, 17-16. With 7:38 left before the half, there had already been 8 lead changes.
The back-and-forth battle continued and an EJ Reed free throw brought the Texans to within one, 22-21. The Texans continued to play extremely physical and disciplined on the defensive end of the court, as the Javelinas had only attempted a pair of free throws with 1:23 to play in the opening half.
Neither team put together enough of a run to pull away. Hardge converted both of his free throw attempts with 5 seconds left in the half and the Texans took a 27-24 lead into the locker room. Although 7 different Texans contributed in the scoring, the team as a whole shot 36.4% from the field and was 10-16 from the charity stripe.
There were 12 lead changes in the half. The largest lead for either squad was the 4 point Javelina advantage early in the game when they led the Texans 8-4.
The Javelinas’ Troy Jones got the first basket out of the locker room. A Hamilton steal led to a monster alley-oop slam by Hardge and the near capacity crowd exploded. Through 5 minutes of play the two teams had only managed 6 combined points and TSU was holding on to a 29-28 lead.
Hamilton picked the pocket of another Javelina and slammed home two more points. TaShawn Mabry joined in the scoring with a jumper off of the key and the Texans had a 34-31 lead with 12:19 left in the first LSC home game of the season.
Kingsville took a 2-point lead on a Jones dunk. Hardge stepped up big again when he was fouled driving the lane, got the basket to go and converted the and-1 opportunity. He knocked down two more from the charity stripe second later, giving the No. 3 Texans a 42-39 lead with 7:21 to play.
Mabry found the bottom of the net and the 17th lead change of the back-and-forth contest. He tipped in a loose ball rebound on the next possession. Mo Lee hit a three from the corner and the Texans had put together a quick 8-0 run. They led 50-43 and were 2:30 from their first LSC victory of the season.
The Texans held a 10-point lead with 1:47 to play after Hardge continued to his stellar performance and knocked down two more clutch free throws. Tarleton held on and outplayed TAMUK when it mattered and earned its first LSC victory of the season, 59-44.