West Texas A&M has found its footing and are back in the mix of the Lone Star Conference division chase with two big home wins over UT Permian Basin, 72-65, on Thursday, followed by an excellent showing during an 80-64 victory over No. 20 Angelo State on Saturday at the First United Bank Center.
The Lady Buffs (18-6), who had hit a funk losing three in a row only a couple of weeks ago, have now put together three straight wins moving to 11-5 in the LSC, and 8-2 in the West Division standings. WT trails only Angelo State (19-4 overall, 9-2 in LSC West) for the division lead.
“It was a huge weekend for us, WT head coach Joshua Prock said. “We’re facing a lot of things right now and we really passed a huge test. We played extremely focused and showed how much character this team really has.”
WT had to overcome adversity the loss of senior point guard and leader Zamorye Roberts who left the team on Monday due to family issues. Roberts had been a two-year starter for the Lady Buffs and playing for Prock since his days at Eastern New Mexico.
“I do think with Zamorye leaving it really brought the team together over the past week,” Prock said. “It galvanized everyone, and they are all supporting each other. It’s been fun to watch.”
The team camaraderie showed as WT had five players land in double figures against the UTPB. Forward Lauren Taylor poured in a game-high 18 points going 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Karley Motschenbacher tallied 15 points with six boards, and Azia Himeur and Hollie Stalder added 10.
During Saturday’s win over ASU, avenging a 60-53 loss to the Rambelles on Jan. 5, the Lady Buffs put together a complete team effort. WT dominated the boards 48-39 over ASU and went 22-of-27 from the charity stripe while holding the Rambelles to 32 percent shooting. Motschenbacher was outstanding scoring 15 points but more importantly pulling down 17 rebounds for a double-double. Himeur was lights out from the floor scoring 23 points knocking down four, 3-pointers, Lauren Taylor added 17 points, and Nyalam Thabach chipped in 13 with seven rebounds.
“It was most complete performance of the year,” Prock said. “We executed on offense, did a great job rebounding and took great shots. We also did a great job of slowing them down and not allowing ASU to get out in transition.”
On a local note, Tascosa graduate and Rambelle junior forward Tayjanna McGhee-Pleasant had a monster performance against WT landing a double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds. On the season McGhee-Peasant is averaging 16.8 points a game and 8.1 rebounds.
The Lady Buffs hit the road to face rival Eastern New Mexico on Thursday and Western New Mexico on Saturday.
– Kale Steed
WTAMU men down Angelo State
First arrived a Lone Star Conference sweep of University of Texas-Permian Basin on Thursday night in Canyon.
That win was followed by a successful payback aimed at No. 15 Angelo State on Canyon on Saturday afternoon.
And just like that the West Texas A&M men’s basketball team owns first place in the rough and tumble world that is the West Division of the Lone Star Conference.
The successful three-day home stretch for WT (16-6 overall) moved it to 8-2 in the LSC West, a half game ahead of Angelo State (18-5, 8-3).
“The guys really wanted these two games and it showed by their play,” said WT coach Tom Brown, his team moving to 10-0 at home this season in the First United Bank Center “I am really pleased.”
WT had lost to Angelo State 82-77 back on Jan. 5 in San Angelo.
But when former WT assistant coach and Angelo State current head coach Vinay Patel brought his Rams into The FUB on Saturday it was obvious things would be different.
WT built a 38-22 halftime making life tough for ASU to find any offensive consistency and refused to let the Rams get closer than seven points the entire second half.
That didn’t mean the Buffs were on cruise control.
WT did not make its first field of the second half until five minutes and 48 seconds had elapsed. But it was clutch and sent the Buffs to a 43-32 lead when senior guard Julius Brown buried a 3-point as the shot clock hit zero.
Angelo State never cut the Buffs lead under double digits the final 10 minutes. Part of that reason was WT making Angelo State pay for fouling.
WT finished 30-of-35 from the line led by senior Damion Thornton’s 12-of-14 effort.
“I think Angelo is a very physical team,” Brown said. “Our guys don’t complain about getting failed and they step up and knock them down. That was very big in this game. If you are going to make a run in conference tournament or national tournament you have to knock down free throws.”
Brown was also pleased the way “we made a couple of big baskets late in the shot clock, although Angelo did that a couple of times as well. They are a good team and let’s be honest that second of the road trip is tough.”
The Buffs relied on balance scoring to get things done on the offensive end with five players scoring between 18 and nine points.
It was Thornton leading the way with 18, followed Julius Brown with 15, junior Larry Wise added 11, while junior Addison Wallace and freshman Brock Mishak each scored nine.
Junior guard Kevon Godwin led the Rams with a game-high 23 points.
The Buffs opened the weekly LSC schedule of two games in three days with a solid 70-66 win over UT Permian Basin (11-15, 3-8) on Thursday.
The Buffs swept the season series against UTPB having won 87-67 in Odessa on Jan. 7.
West Texas took the lead for good with 15:15 remaining on a Thornton mid-jumper and with 6:56 led comfy 62-51 after Wallace’s free throw.
UTPB did make things interesting down the stretch going on an 11-2 run making the Buffs sweat things out when Max Warren scored on a layup with 1:54 remaining cutting the WT lead to 64-62.
But the Buffs did what they had to when it counted the final two minutes never giving up the lead and Wise closed things out with six seconds remaining making two free throws for a 70-66 lead.
Wise led all scorers with 23 points and came two rebounds short of a double-double- with eight boards.
Joining Wise in double figures for the Buffs were Thornton with 15 and Wallace added 14.
UTPB, with a decided height advantage, did outrebound the Buffs 36-28 and had three players in double figures led by Jalen King’s 14.
The Buffs return to action Thursday hitting the road to nearby Portales, N.M., taking on rival Eastern New Mexico.