West Texas A&M guard Joel Murray (13) shoots a 3-pointer during the Buffs 84-56 win against Arkansas-Fort Smith on Saturday at the First United Bank Center. [Ben Jenkins/ Press Pass Sports]
West Texas A&M closed out its final game before the Christmas break in fine fashion with an 84-56 thumping of Lone Star Conference for Arkansas-Fort Smith on Saturday afternoon at the First United Bank Center.
A huge offensive surge and stingy defense helped WT pull away in the first half for the victory.
After a back-and-forth start to the contest, the Buffs led 14-12 with 12:55 to play in the first half. From that point forward the offense caught fire, and the defense locked down the Lions over the next seven plus minutes, thanks to a 19-0 run, led by Qua Grant. The WT sophomore guard put up 14 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, finishing the night going 8 of 11 from the floor and 2 of 2 from downtown.
Grant, Jordan Collins, Joel Murray and Jon’il Fugett held UAFS in check offensively. The Lions shot only scored only 19 points at half, and struggled to keep pace with the highly-talented backcourt of the Buffs
“We played with great effort,” WT coach Tom Brown said. “We had our guys in the right position, and it showed to hold a team like that to 19 points in the first half. It was a great team effort.”
Grant added six rebounds with assists to his total. Murray chipped in with 16 points, going a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe.
John Brown, the Buffs junior center, poured in eight points during the win.
The No. 7-ranked Buffs enter the break at 12-1 overall and 4-1 in the LSC.
WT opens the conference schedule back up on Saturday, Jan. 4, at Eastern New Mexico.
W. Texas A&M 84, Ark. Fort Smith 56
UAFS 19 37 — 56
WT 42 42 — 84
Points: Matthew Wilson 16
Rebounds: Wilson 5.
Assists: Charles Botchway 5
Steals: Evan Anderson 2.
Blocks: Matt Morgan 2.
Turnovers: Chris Rollins 4.
Points: Qua Grant 21, Joel Murray 16.
Rebounds: Brown 6.
Assists: Murray 5.
Steals: Grant 4.
Blocks: Grant 1, Murray 1, John Brown 1.
Turnovers: JT Warren 3.
Field goals 18-40 30-60
Field goal % 45.0 50.0
3-Pointers 5-16 8-20
3-Point % 31.3 40.0
Free Throws 15-21 16-22
Free Throw % 71.4 72.7
Rebounds 25 29
Offensive 5 11
Defensive 20 18
Assists 9 14
Steals 8 14
Blocks 3 3
Turnovers 25 12