West Texas A&M guard Qua Grant goes under two Lubbock Christian defenders for a layup during a Lone Star Conference game on Saturday. [Tom Carver/ Press Pass Sports]
And the beat goes on.
West Texas A&M continued living up to its No. 4 ranking Saturday afternoon building a 17-point lead 12 minutes into the game and never letting up before settling on a 92-68 Lone Star Conference victory over Lubbock Christian.
The 1,983 fans in the First United Bank Center continue to be spoiled with WT running its home record to a nation-best 36 games in a row.
Buff fans didn’t have to wait long for WT (17-1 overall, 9-1 in LSC) to send the message this would be its day against a very good LCU (9-6, 6-4) squad led by respected and veteran coach Todd Duncan pushing the pace early owning leads of 11-2, 29-12 and 41-18 after a Hayden Berkley 3-pointer with six minutes still remaining in the first half.
WT coach Tom Brown said the enthusiastic crowd helped his players stay focused and he was pleased the way his first-place Buffs opened the game.
“I thought our effort was really good early and pretty much throughout the game,” Brown said. “Offensively when we move the ball we are pretty darn good.”
WT sophomore guard Qua Grant continued his season-long stellar play and was the first-half catalyst to WT owning a hefty 52-28 lead at halftime.
Grant, coming off a 32-point, 11-rebound, six-steal performance Thursday in a win over Angelo State, hurt LCU with his ability to drive the lane and either score or dish for a basket.
Grant scored 17 of his game-high 28 points in the first half on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor, made all five free throws he attempted, led all rebounders with five and added three assists.
WT finished the opening half 19-of-32 from the floor with seven of 14 field goals 3-pointers. The Buffs finished with 11 3-pointers and finished 33-of-63 from the floor.
“They could not stop Qua there for awhile,” Brown said. “I know teams are going to try and put two or three guys out there to stop him but Qua makes the extra pass. When he does that we are really, really tough.”
As has become a WT pattern this year, Grant was joined by fellow sophomore guard Joel Murray in playing an outstanding game as the pair continues to make a case for being the best duo guards in all of the Division II nation.
Murray scored 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting, made three steals and led the team in assists with six.
Sophomore WT guard Jon’il Fugett joined Grant and Murray in double figures with 11, while Jordan Collins, Zach Toussaint and Blankley each scored nine.
LCU coach Todd Duncan said West Texas is obviously a talented team with players buying into their roles.
“They make it tough on you when you can’t keep them in front you,” Duncan said. “Grant, Murray and several of them can get to the basket. They do a good job.”
LCU was unable to cut the lead under double digits in the second half and finished shooting 40 percent from the floor (26-of-65). The Chaps placed four scorers in doubles figures with freshman guard Aamer Muhammed leading the way with 13.
Former Canadian star Cameron Copley, a redshirt sophomore, started for LCU and played 30 minutes, scoring eight points and leading all players with seven assists.
“Lubbock is a very physical team and are a team that takes the most charges in the league,” Brown said. “We did a good job of staying with things and were able to build the lead to 29 in the second half. You have to make good decisions if you are up by two or 20, or down 20. You have to play your style and be true to who you are and we did that.”
WT will take its eight-game winning streak on the road next week visiting Texas A&M-Kingsville on Thursday and Texas A&M-International Jan. 25.