Grant’s career effort sends Buffs back to NCAA DII Elite Eight
West Texas A&M guard Qua Grant scored a career-high 40 points to lead the Buffs past Lubbock Christian 101-92 in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Final. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports] West Texas A&M, playing at a frantic and successful pace, punched its ticket to the Division II Elite Eight for the third consecutive year there has been a tournament Tuesday night.
Behind a devastating night of 3-point shooting and the career night of All-American guard Qua Grant, the Buffs downed Lubbock Christian 101-92 in the South Central men’s championship game at Lubbock Christian University.
Simply put, it was a wow night for the Buffs.
West Texas (17-2) dropped home 14 3-pointers led by Grant’s career-high seven, then Grant finished with a career-high 40 points on one of the biggest stages D-II offers.
“It was two really good teams playing a really good game and we were lucky to come out on top,” said WT seven-year coach Tom Brown. “Lubbock Christian is probably better than any team we will see in the Elite Eight.”
The Buffs were denied a chance to play in the Elite Eight last year after COVID-19 forced cancellation of the tournament days before WT was scheduled to host the South Central regional as the No. 1 seed.
West Texas A&M claimed its third straight NCAA DII South Central Regional title Tuesday night. [Trevor Fleeman/ Press Pass Sports]
However, with WT’s convincing win Tuesday night it marks the third consecutive year the Elite Eight has been held the Buffs have been an Elite Eight participant.
“I tell you what if Eric Mosely and Jordan Collins are watching this is for you guys,” Brown said of the two seniors on last year’s team. “I thought we had chance to win it all last year.”
Anybody watching the Buffs Tuesday night would argue there is a good chance if this team plays at the level witnessed against LCU during the Elite Eight, it will take a gargantuan effort.
West Texas’ much-ballyhooed guard duo of juniors Grant and JoJo Murray beat the LCU man-to-man defense time and again on outside shots and drives to the basketball combining for 64 of the Buffs 101 points.
Murray scored 24 on 10-of-18 shooting.
Brown praised his guards but added don’t forget the Jon’il Fugett (13 points), Javon Booker (6 points and 10 rebounds) or guard Zach Toussaint (four 3-pointers, 12 points).
The Buffs combination of excellent play throughout the lineup led to a 56-46 halftime lead that the Buffs never relinquished.
That first half was about as up and down the floor as a college game can get.
The teams combined to put 35 3-pointers and it was the Buffs benefitting most from the fast pace making 10-fo-22 3-pointers and forging a 56-46 halftime lead on the strength of a 14-4 run and the play of Grant and Murray.
Grant canned five 3-pointers – including a deep one at the first half buzzer – and had 21 points at halftime leading all scorers.
Murray didn’t get in on the 3-point party the Buffs were having but his mid-range jumpers – many under pressure - added 12 points.
“We got the win and we are advancing that’s all that really matters,” said Qua, shrugging off the 40 points, one of the top scoring efforts in WT history.”
LCU finishes its excellent season at 18-3 that included a hone over WT during the Lone Star Conference season.
LCU went toe-to-toe with the Buffs early as the first half saw six ties and two lead changes.
Parker Hicks led LCU with 27 points, followed by 16 each from Rowan Mackenzie and former Canadian High star Cameron Copley. Copley made four 3-pointers and added nine assists.
“This never gets old,” Brown said.
BUFF STUFF: One of the most entertaining celebration moments followed the game when WT assistant coach Chris Gove walked over to the WT fans and waved his arms to get loud. It worked. … Qua was voted the South Central Regional most outstanding player. … The Elite Eight Tournament will open March 24 at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.
NCAA Division II Regional Final
at Rip Griffin Center, Lubbock Christian University
LCU (18-3): Parker Hicks 11-21 4-13 27, Rowan Mackenzie 7-12 1-4 16, Cameron Copley 5-8 2-2 16, Ty Caswell 0-1 2-2 2, Lloyd Daniels 9-11 0-0 20, Aamar Muhammad 0-2 0-1 0, Jalen Brattain 4-5 3-4 11. Totals: 36-60 6-9 92.
West Texas A&M (17-2): Qua Grant 12-22 9-9 40, Jon’il Fugett 4-10 1-4 13, Kavon Booker 2-2 2-2 6, Joel Murray 10-18 4-5 24, Zach Toussaint 4-7 0-0 12, Hayden Blankley 2-2 0-0 6. Totals: 34-61, 19-23 101.
LCU 46 46 — 92
WTAMU 56 45 — 101
3-point goals: LCU: 14-31 (Hicks 4-13, Mackenzie 1-4, Copley 4-6, Daniels 2-2, Brattain 3-4). WT: 14-32 (Grant 7-15, Fugett 4-6, Toussaint 4-7, Blankley 2-2). Rebounds: LCU: 27 (Hicks 8). WT: 28 (Booker 10). Blocks: LCU: 1 (Daniels 1). WT: 1 (Grant 1). Assists: LCU: 20 (Copley 9). WT: 10 (Grant 4). Steals: LCU: 4 (Mackenzie 2). WT: 6 (Fugett 3). Turnovers: LCU: 11 (Copley 3). WT: 6 (Grant 2, Fugett 2). Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None. Attendance: 317.