West Texas A&M made history Saturday becoming the first men’s basketball team to win four straight Lone Star Conference Tournament titles. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
The Lone Star Conference men’s basketball tournament title has found a home like no other.
West Texas A&M signed its name to the Lone Star Conference record books Saturday becoming the first men’s basketball team in conference history to win four straight LSC crowns in a row.
Sparked by a strong shooting performance and the overall play of tourney most valuable player guard Qua Grant, the No. 8-ranked Buffs looked every bit a national championship contender downing a very good St. Edward’s 108-89 in the LSC championship game before 1,000 fans in the First United Bank Center.
Seventh-year Buffs head coach Tom Brown saw his team improve to 15-2 and earn the LSC’s automatic berth in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Brown and his Buffs will learn their seed in the during the selection show scheduled at 9:30 p.m. (CST) on Sunday.
“We will be the No.1 seed,” Brown said of the six-team regional set to open next weekend at Lubbock Christian.
The muscular 6-0 Grant did his excellent thing getting to the basket time and again, scoring a career-high 34 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting, grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds and hit late 3-pointer in the first half that seemed to spark the Buffs 55-point second half.
“This team is a lotta fun,” Grant said. “We joke a lot off the court but when we play we are focused. We wanted to get this one.”
The Buffs flat out shot St. Ed’s out of the gym.
Ten WT players combined for 36-of-68 shooting from the floor, an impressive 52.9 percent. This shooting including canning 16-of-29 3 -pointers led by a 5-of-8 effort behind the arc from Grant and a 5-of-9 effort on threes by 5-11 sophomore guard Zach Toussaint.
Then five WT players lit it up from the free throw line making 20-of-23 shots, that’s 87 percent.
WT’s big shooting night produced a pair things.
Number one the Buffs placed fie players in double figures led by Grant’s 34, followed by 6-0 sophomore guard JoJo Murray’s 20, Toussaint’s 18, Jon’il Fugett’s 14 and 12 by Kavon Booker, at 6-foot-6 the lone WT starter over 6-0.
That shooting also kept St. Ed’s at bay throughout the second half as WT used a 10-2 run closing the first half, then scoring four unanswered points opening the second half resulting in a 57-46 lead that was never in trouble.
That’s because after St. Ed’s coach Andre Cook called a quick timeout. However, WT destroyed that strategy going on a 9-1 .
Cook said the Buffs kept extending or maintaining the lead through the second half and that was too much to overcome.
“It seemed like the whole half we had an opportunity to get it to seven and we could never put a scare in them,” Cook said.
Cook also heaped high praise on WT’s backcourt duo of Grant and Murray saying “he can’t wait” until the two All-American’s graduate and leave.
“You have to show those two bodies as much as possible,” said Cook, his team 12-9 and likely to miss out on a regional bid. “But when you do that some of these other guys like step up with (Kavon) Booker 12 points, (Hayden) Blankley made two threes. I mean they were 16-of-29 from three. Those two (Grant and Murray) guys are such a problem and they are great kids. But I just can’t wait until they go.”
St. ED’s also placed five players in double figures led by Daniel Venzant’s 25 points.
WT also outrebounded St. Ed’s 43-23.
Grant was the tournament MVP and all-tourney. He was joined by Murray and Toussaint on the all-tourney team.
“We shared the ball and it’s hard to key on one guy,” Brown said. “Whether that’s Jon’il, Qua, JoJo or Zach. They are all MVPs to me.”
2021 LSC Men’s Tournament
First United Bank Center, Canyon
West Texas 108, St. Edward’s 89
St. Edward’s (12-9): Krafka 5-7 1-2 14, Cook 5-6 1-2 11, Maxwell 7-16 4-4 19, Venzant 7-15 8-9 25, Garza 3-6 3-4 11, Phillips 2-5 0-0 6, Hill 1-3 0-0 3, Love 0-3 0-0 0, Murphy 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 30-62 17-21 89.
West Texas A&M (15-2): Grant 11-15 7-9 34, J. Fugett 5-12 2-2 14, Booker 4-8 4-4 12, Murray 6-15 6-7 20, Toussaint 6-10 1-1 18, Brown 1-1 0-0 2, Bell 0-1 0-0 0, Blankley 2-3 0-0 6, C. Fugett 0-0 0-0 0, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Nielsen 0-2 0-0 0, Obineke 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 36-68 20-23 108.
3 point goals: St. Ed’s (12-31) Krafka 3-4, Maxwell 1-7, Venzant 3-7, Garza 2-4, Phillips 2-5, Hill 1-2, Love 0-1, Murphy 0-1. West Texas (16-29) Grant 5-8, J. Fugett 2-6, Murray 2-3, Toussaint 5-9, Blankely 2-3. Rebounds: St. Ed’s 23 (Cook 7), West Texas 43 (Grant 12). Total fouls: St. Ed’s 18, West Texas 16. Fouled out: Krafka. Technicals: None. Attendance 1,000.